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For those into the Disco crew the press release just dropped this morn

-- Team Looks to Compete and Challenge in Post-Lance Armstrong Era --

(Silver Spring, Md.) – The Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (DCPCT) announced today its roster of exceptional riders who will compete in the 2006 Tour de France, July 1-23. DCPCT sports director Johan Bruyneel made the announcement today and listed the nine-rider team as follows: George Hincapie, Yaroslav Popovych, Paolo Savoldelli, Jose Azevedo, Egoi Martinez, Pavel Padrnos, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Benjamin Noval, and Jose Luis Rubiera. Additionally, Vladimir Gusev and Michael Barry have been listed as reserves. The nine DCPCT riders will compete in the 93rd Tour de France made up of a prologue time trial and 20 stages that will cover a total distance of 3,600 kilometers. The 20 stages will cover nine flat stages, four medium mountain stages, five mountain stages and two individual time-trial stages.
“Although 2006 will be my first Tour de France as a director without Lance on the team, I am extremely motivated to have our team continue to be a major factor in this race,” remarked Johan Bruyneel. “I had a similar feeling in 1999, when we came in as an underdog even though we had strong riders. I am confident that with the team we are bringing that we can have at least one of our riders finish in a top placing in Paris. The road to the Champs Elysees is difficult and many things can happen. Our guys are ready for the challenge.”
“While Lance won’t be leading the team on his bike, his presence will be felt along with the leadership of Johan Bruyneel, the finest cycling coach in the world,” said Billy Campbell, President Discovery Networks, U.S. “We’re extremely confident that the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team will compete at the highest level, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of our riders on the podium on the final day in Paris. The entire Discovery family is gearing up for cycling’s biggest event.”

Members of the press and the public can view a special Webisode of sports director Johan Bruyneel’s announcement of the DCPCT Tour de France riders at www.race2replace.com.
Following is a synopsis of each rider’s performance in the 2006 season, along with his strengths and accomplishments going in to the Tour de France:

George Hincapie- If ever there has been a consistent stand-by for the Discovery Channel team it has been George Hincapie. The only athlete to ride along Lance in all seven Tour victories, George knows what it takes to excel in this race. In the past two years George has gone from being a one-day racer and sprinter to a true tour contender. Having won the biggest mountain stage of the 2005 Tour he has focused his 2006 campaign on preparing specifically for the Tour de France in hope of being the team leader. George showed tremendous early season form by winning two stages at the Tour of California, placing second in the individual Time Trial and fifth overall at the Three Days of DePanne, as well as third at the Tour of Flanders and fifth at Gent-Wevelgem. Unfortunately he suffered a setback crashing out at Paris-Roubaix while riding in a lead group. George returned home to rehab a shoulder separation and begin his Tour de France preparation. George then showed that he made a fully recovery in his first race back, the Dauphine Libere, finishing second in the prologue, fourth in the Individual Time Trial, fourth in stage 7 and tenth overall.

Yaroslav Popovych- At 26 years old, “Popo” has followed a steady path of success culminating at the 2005 Tour as he captured the best young rider jersey while helping Lance win his seventh and final Tour de France. Popo, a smart and crafty racer, has shown his talent and good form in 2006 with a stage win in the Individual Time Trial at the Vuelta Castilla y Leon, as well as a stage win, two third place stage finishes and third place overall at the Tour de Georgia

Paolo Savoldelli- “Il Falco” has had another great season with the Discovery Channel Team. Heading into the Giro d’Italia as the defending champion, Paolo had high hopes and ambition to defend his title, or at the least, finish on the podium. Unfortunately severe allergies due to a late spring in Italy hampered his hopes of a podium placing. However, Paolo still walked away with a stage victory, a second place stage finish, as well as fifth place overall. Savoldelli is focused on recovering from his Giro efforts and hopes to ride well for his teammates at the 2006 Tour de France.

Jose Azevedo- In 2004 Jose “the Ace” Azevedo finished a career best fifth overall at the Tour de France riding in defense of Lance’s sixth yellow jersey, clearly proving himself to be a man to watch in both the time trials and the mountains. To date in 2006, Jose has focused his training to peak for the Tour de France. Season highlights include sixth overall at Paris-Nice, fifth overall at Castilla y Leon and fourth on stage 4 and fourth overall at the Dauphine Libere.
Egoi Martinez – In his first season with the Discovery Channel Team, Egoi has impressed his teammates and directors with solid results and a professional work ethic. Egoi performed strongly in the Vuelta Castilla y Leon with third and sixth place stage results and a fourth place overall finish. He also rode extremely hard at the Tour de Georgia with two eighth place stage results while helping teammate Tom Danielson finish second overall and the team win the Team Classification prize.

Pavel Padrnos- For the second straight year Padrnos will ride both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France back to back as he starts his seventh Tour de France. Pavel consistently plays the role of super domestique for his Discovery Channel teammates showing tremendous strength and endurance on the flats and low mountain stages. In 2006 he finished third in the Team Time Trial event at the Giro d’Italia.

Benjamin Noval- The 2006 Tour de France will be Noval’s third with the Discovery Channel team. Benjamin has shown strong form throughout his spring campaign as he worked tirelessly for his team leaders at races such as Paris-Roubaix, Tour de Georgia and Dauphine Libere.

Viatcheslav Ekimov- With 14 Tour de France’s under his belt and 40 years of cycling wisdom, Eki is a true professional. Having missed out on Lance’s seventh Tour win in 2005 due to a back injury, Eki is motivated as ever to return to the roads of France and prove to the world that he has not lost a step. This season, Eki has focused on working for team leaders like George Hincapie, Tom Danielson and Paolo Savoldelli during the Tours of California, Georgia and Italy, respectively. While providing key support for Paolo Savoldelli, he was still able to finish tenth in the Individual Time Trial and help the team finish fifth in the Team Trial event.

Jose Luis Rubiera- Nicknamed “Chechu”; this Spanish rider is another true professional of the Discovery Channel Team. Chechu has quietly ridden his 2006 season in preparation for two races, the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. In the Giro, Chechu rode selflessly for Paolo Savoldelli and while doing that nearly missed out on a stage victory, finishing second. His strong riding in the Giro helped the team place third in the Team Trial Event and a personal thirteenth overall place in one of the toughest grand tour races ever ridden.
 

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Scot_Gore said:
Ted,

The way I read this George will be wear Number 1. He will be the protected rider, and the race will decide if it lasts through 20 stages.

Concur?

Scot
Haven't they been rather explicit that Hincapie, Popovych, Savoldelli and Azevedo are all going to be protected riders until they ride themselves out of that status (or maybe one of them really rises to the top). Disco will not have the responsibility of the race on them, they don't have a sprinter, they won't have to do any work unless one of their riders ends up high in the GC after the first go thru in the mountains and probably not even then.

T-mobile and CSC are going to have all of the GC responsibility as only Ullrich and Basso are clear favorites until proven otherwise. Quick-step, Lotto and Credit Agricole will probably all take responsibility for the sprints.
 

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mtnpat said:
Hater

Like to see you say that to Eki's face. That would be a hoot.
I'm sorry, what year did Eki win the tour? So he has only lost? Who else on that list has won a tour----nobody. Will anyone of them win it this year, NOPE. So that means they will all lose.
 

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Bad Link said:
I'm sorry, what year did Eki win the tour? So he has only lost? Who else on that list has won a tour----nobody. Will anyone of them win it this year, NOPE. So that means they will all lose.
It's your purposeful hating tone that is offending, to me and any other normal person, not who has or will win the TDF and you know it.

Go crawl back under your rock.
 

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mtnpat said:
It's your purposeful hating tone that is offending, to me and any other normal person, not who has or will win the TDF and you know it.

Go crawl back under your rock.

9 riders and none of them in my opinion or based on past history can win, so if you do not win, you lose. Thus, if you win, you are a winner, if you lose, you are a loser.

BTW, if a rock is laying on the ground and nothing in between, how would I be able to crawl under it?
 
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Ok already with the freaking personal attacks :(

Back on point. I think it's a bit nuts, and I've said this before, to have 4 'protected' riders in a 9 man team. But, that's Johan's worry, not mine.
 

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Bad Link said:
I'm sorry, what year did Eki win the tour? So he has only lost? Who else on that list has won a tour----nobody. Will anyone of them win it this year, NOPE. So that means they will all lose.
Just in case you're not a troll and truly believe the GC leader is the only winner in the world toughest event, I'd like to try to change your mind.
Fortunately, the Tour offers so much more than just the overall victory. There's the team competition, young rider competition, TTT, and individual stages. These may not mean a damn thing to you, they may all seem like pathetic consolodation prizes, but you can bet they mean a hell of a lot to the riders and teams.
George got the biggest win of his career in last year's tour stage. I doubt a single sane person evaluates his tour as a losing one. Some riders enter the event with their only goal being to win the prologue. Chris Boardman was well known for "winning" the prologue and bringing pride to the UK. I doubt a search of him on Wilkpedia will say, "Best known for always losing the TDF." Even the French, who have no real hope of winning the event find other ways to appreciate it. They compete for the best French rider and they all wake up for the chance to win on Bastille Day. It's just a single day, and it's usually one of the less interesting stage routes, but they still find a way to make it exciting for themselves.
If a rider becomes the first from his nation to win a stage, he is a national hero, not a loser.
Go ahead and take a shot at opening your eyes at opportunities to appreciate all the winning moments in the Tour instead of indulging in clever pot shots. It may be unknown territory, but what's life if don't try something different? If you find yourself still viewing all but one rider as a loser, you probably should stop wasting time following cycling. But there's a good chance you'll get into the races within the race and start to express more positive contributions. You can always start posting under a different name to avoid any embarrassment.
 

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Tommy D is doin the Vuelta hence no Tour. That was announced during the Giro.
 

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Not much of a surprise there. Seven of them are the same crew that rode last year, except now they don't have to take care of Lance. Considering how strong these guys are individually, it should be really interesting to see what they can do without obligations. I'd much rather see them win a bunch of stages than worry about GC.
 

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mohair_chair said:
Considering how strong these guys are individually, it should be really interesting to see what they can do without obligations. I'd much rather see them win a bunch of stages than worry about GC.
Hopefully we won't have a T-Mobile-like implosion like last year... Vino attacking Ulle in the hills...
 

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I'm kinda surprised Stijn Devolder didn't make the cut. I thought his relatively lackluster performances this Spring (compared to his great Spring 2005) were meant to conserve energy and slowly bring him to form for the 2006 TdF. Plus he did a decent Dauphine. I guess Johan thought otherwise. Should be on the Vuelta squad, however.

I'm not surprised Janez Brajkovic didn't make it because of his youth (22), but he finished fifth in the Tour de Suisse and IMO can expect him on the TdF squad next year -- this dude weighs 122 freaking pounds, but he's strong and will keep getting better. He should definitely be on the Vuelta squad to support Tommy D.
 
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