The 2012 Tour de France begins Saturday, and although American George Hincapie is unlikely to be competing for the yellow jersey at the end of the race, he is set to make history this year.
Hincapie is riding in a record 17th Tour de France; if he finishes the race, he will tie Joop Zoetemelk for the Tour record of 16 completed races. Hincapie raced in his first Tour in 1996, which was also the only time he didn't finish the race.
Throughout his career, he has played a major role in nine Tour de France victories, including riding alongside Lance Armstrong for all seven of his wins. He is also the last American rider to wear the yellow jersey, earning it for one stage in 2006. The 2012 Tour will be his last, but not before he has ridden a staggering distance through France.
The AP reports:
To put that into perspective, Hincapie's 15 Tours and the 14 stages he finished in 1996 add up to almost 38,000 miles of cycling around France - or one-and-a-half times around the Earth.