Disco in Limbo without Lance
(pic from Yahoo sports)
It took a Time Trial to show that the Discovery Channel team has a very weak belly without their former leader Lance Armstrong. It is natural when you put in such a successful system where everyone is a role player. They made it very successful for seven straight years, but unfortunatley the system does not do as well without the leader, Lance Armstrong.
Admiration of a superstar athlete grows after their retirement. While Lance was still racing, you would get tired of the same old formula. He would crush everyone in the first TT and build on that lead in the mountains. The story would play out each year (unless there was no early TT) but it worked and worked like clockwork. Lance made it look easy, and anyone on Disco getting a front row view of this phenomenon would probably think they could do it too. Well, now was their chance, four Disco guys went out with one goal in mind and that was to be the “new” man for Discovery to rally around. In the end, all four guys realized just how hard a task it is being the man. Not everyone is made to be the man which is why there is only one.
So Hincapie was talking big, saying that Disco will see who the leader will be after the first TT. Popovych is always threatening to break out, but Bruyneel reminds everyone that he is too young. Azevedo was nowhere, and Savoldelli did his usual performance. Not bad individual performance for each, but not the stuff that makes for a true contender. The Tour is only one-third done, and there are still many stages to go, but after today Disco must be missing Lance which must be why Lance pledged to come out to France and visit the team. Maybe to kick some ass of the Disco riders while he is there too.
The top guy for Disco now seems to be Savoldelli. With Sergei Gontcher winning the TT today, it seems like we are back in Italy for some reason. Savoldelli is ina good position, he can climb and stick with the main contenders well enough. If he has full team support he may be able to pull off a win much like he did in the Giro last year. Of the top contenders such as Landis, Rogers and Evans none have super explosve climbing abilities, so this will allow Savoldelli to stay close.
Perhaps Savoldelli was a bit overlooked since he never performed well in the Tour de France. Bruyneel says that the Giro is completely different. Well look at the GC Johan, Gonchar lead the Giro for a few days this year, and he is in Yellow today. Not so different if you ask me. So, Johan give Paolo your support, he will need it and he just may pull off the win that Disco wants so desparately in the post-Lance era.