Discovery name their Tour nine

Of course there is no Lance Armstrong, but Discovery Channel's Tour de France line-up still looks im

Of course there is no Lance Armstrong, but Discovery Channel's Tour de France line-up still looks im

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Discovery Channel have announced their roster of nine riders for the Tour de France next month. No longer able to call on the services of seven-time winner Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel sports director Johan Bruyneel has selected a team with as many as four riders who are regarded as strong outsiders for the Tour title.

The nine riders selected are George Hincapie, Yaroslav Popovych, Paolo Savoldelli, Jos Azevedo, Egoi Martinez, Pavel Padrnos, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Benjamin Noval and Jos Luis Rubiera. The first four names in that list are all riders with strong showings in previous major stage races. The team's two reserves are Vladimir Gusev and Michael Barry.

"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 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 Elyses is difficult and many things can happen. Our guys are ready for the challenge."

Billy Campbell, president of Discovery Networks US said of the Tour team: "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. 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."

A special webisode of Bruyneel's announcement of the Tour riders can be seen at www.race2replace.com

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