The Unveiling of Discovery
Discovery Channel has lost Lance Armstrong, but it remains able to win races. The American squad, which won last year?s Tour de France and Giro d?Italia, expects to continue winning. Everyone who is associated with the team believes that. In a January 24 press conference, Team manager Bill Stapleton said, ?We?ve created the best cycling team in the world. Lance kept his promise [to win a seventh Tour], and now it?s time [for us] to keep ours. ?We?re gonna be the best team in the world going forward.?
Stapleton was not alone with his confidence. The riders radiated it. Tom Danielson, whom Discovery is grooming to become a stage race champion, stated, ?I?m on the best team with the best riders and the best staff. I push as hard as I can.? George Hincapie, Discovery?s classics man who finished 14th in last year?s Tour while winning Stage 15, added, ?I think we?re gonna have a very good team.?
With history?s greatest Tour rider gone, what are the team?s ambitions for that race and for the rest of the season? Discovery directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel expects the squad to make its presence felt throughout the season. ?The goals,? Bruyneel said, ?remain unchanged, even without Lance. We have a lot of good riders. We have the winner of the Giro and future winners of the Tour. Hopefully, we can win a spring classic. Paolo Savoldelli will defend the Giro. Then, of course, the Tour.? Bruyneel added that Hincapie, Jose Azevedo, Yaroslav Popovych, and Savoldelli ?are able to be in the top
Although Lance Armstrong is no longer an active rider, he is under contract with Discovery, and he still has close ties with the team and its riders. ?There is,? Armstrong said, ?still a friendship, still a process to continue to grow the team. With Johan Bruyneel. We have incredible forces in the classics. We won the Giro last year, which is often forgotten. None of that will change. The only thing that will change is the Tour de France. I have full faith in Johan and in these guys.? Armstrong added that the team?s best strategy for the Tour is ?to downplay our chances?That?s the perfect way to ride the race. The Tour is about Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso?.?
How will Discovery fare without Armstrong? Will the American squad win the Giro again? Will it continue to dominate the Tour? Check in at Roadcycling.com and follow the team between now and July!