Discovery Channel for the Tour De France
Lance Armstrong (USA)
Jose Azevedo (P)
Manuel Beltran (Sp)
George Hincapie (USA)
Benjamin Noval (Sp)
Pavel Padrnos (Cz)
Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr)
Jose Luis Rubiera (Sp)
Paolo Savoldelli (I)
I think they will be looking to Hincapie, Padrnos & Noval to all chip in and take up Eki's role. Hincapie rode really well in the Dauphine race. 2 stage wins including the prologue. Looks like a strong team.
its all climbers! i hope they still have the goods on the flats and the TTT.
i agree.. Hincapie is the only flatlands rider there and even he has turned himself into some what a climber of late... where's the horse power? with a team like that it might actually be smart for others to send their secondary GC contenders on attack in the foothills and where the Discovery helpers down before the big stuff.
Is anyone else surprised to see Noval back for the tdf? Didn't he get dropped during the TTT last year? I don't recall him contributing much on other stages either. Is he a contender for the white jersey?
Disco may not be as strong as they were in last year's TTT, but they did just place 5th in the pro-tour TTT by around 50 seconds, but not sure who was on the team. I know George was there, and i know lance wasn't, but that's about it. Phonak and CSC had their strongest riders, and i know Leipheimer and Ullrich weren't there, but it's an indication that the team looks pretty good.
I think it is an amazingly strong team, however Eki will be missed by all. I think that Ekimov is completely devoted to Lance and it will be different for Lance to ride the Tour without him. Remember that Lance is a guy who can doesn't like when his bars or seat are off by just a couple of millimeters. He rides in a very regimented, calculating way and he's always worked incredibly closely with Eki during the Tour. On the other hand, if Lance is on form there is no one that can touch him. How many stages did he win in a row last year - just because he felt like it? Four? Five? I think it'll be race for second place... If he loses I'll blame the Deparment of City Streets in Austin, TX for not filling the pothole that broke Eki's collarbone.
Noval is an amazing rider, and although he got messed in the Tour last year (12 months ago) I am 100% sure that if he wasn't perceived to be able to make a great contribution the wouldn't be in the Tour 9. My bet is that you won't see the same Noval this year as you did last year. By the way, Noval did have issues on the Team Time Trial, but did help out on several other key stages last year. We tend to only remember that bad stuff though.
As for the TTT this year. My guess is that team Disco will be just like any other year in recent history...using other races as warmups to get the bugs out...my guess is that you will see them win or place second in the TTT just like the last few years.