George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong’s most trusted lieutenant during his asterisk-laden seven-year winning streak at the Tour de France, spent a substantial portion of his cycling career adroitly dodging doping accusations from the cynics and the sceptics.
But the former American pro, who has branched out into gran fondo organising in his retirement, has also proved he’s equally capable of avoiding flying deer, after a startled animal made a dramatic cameo at one of his recent events – by jumping across the road and over a group of riders, grazing one and forcing Hincapie himself to duck.
The dramatic near miss (or should that be deer miss? I’ll get my coat) took place two weeks ago at the Gran Fondo Hincapie in Greenville, South Carolina, one of several mass participation events organised by the former Tour de France stage winner and classics specialist.
And while the cyclists taking part may have been alert to the dangers of potholes and poor driving during their ride, they certainly wouldn’t have been expecting to add ‘acrobatic deer’ to their list of potential road hazards.
The incident, which was captured by participant Edwin Gonzalez Montoya’s helmet cam, saw the deer attempt to jump across the road right as the group, who were riding from the hotel to the gran fondo’s start, passed.
Fortunately, the deer somehow managed to clear most of the group, lightly clipping Montoya, while Big George – who was riding directly in front of the helmet-cam wearing cyclist, on the left-hand side – ducked as the animal flew overhead, before glancing behind to survey the scene.
“It happened just after we had left the hotel. I was just a few riders in front of the deer,” Hincapie, who also said that many within the group hadn’t even realised what had happened until later, told Canadian Cycling Magazine. “It was pretty crazy!”
While Big George’s ruminant gran fondo adventure slots nicely into our Deer Miss of the Day collection (again, apologies), other deer-spotting cyclists haven’t been so fortunate in the past.
Last March, a cyclist was hospitalised after a crash involving three deer at New Forest National Park.
“I literally saw their eyes lit up and the next I was on them, there was no time to stop,” Iain Gee said at the time. “They hit me and I was off, splat on the road. My front wheel was buckled, and I was left with a bleeding head and my ribs were in terrible pain.
“The deer ran off unhurt. It was such a shock I didn’t really know what had happened – I just remember seeing the hindquarters of one right by my front wheel.”
In 2019, West Country cyclist Nathan Wagstaff fractured his arm after a deer jumped out of a hedge and straight into his path during his commute home.
And back across the pond, in October 2021, a young buck launched itself across the road during a charity cycling event in New Jersey, clipping the front wheel of one of the riders and taking them down. Fortunately, both the deer and cyclist avoided injury.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.