Lance is our missing link says Bruyneel

Lance Armstrong was bound to cast a huge shadow over the Discovery Channel team's performance at thi

Lance Armstrong was bound to cast a huge shadow over the Discovery Channel team's performance at thi

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

With seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong reported to be on his way to France to join up with his former Discovery Channel team-mates on Monday's rest day, team manager Johan Bruyneel has revealed just how much the American squad have been missing their retired leader.

Speaking to AFP before Friday's stage to Carcassonne, which was won by Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych, Bruyneel said, "We now realise that Armstrong was really unique, and with a team around him it was relatively easy. He was always where you wanted him to be, especially when things got difficult. We're no longer in the same situation."

Bruyneel revealed Armstrong was as disappointed with the team's showing in the Pyrenees as everyone else, but denied his team had come to the Tour expecting to successfully defend the yellow jersey. "We never came here with the ambition of winning the Tour, but we believed we could do a bit better than we have done so far," said the Belgian team manager.

Asked if Armstrong's retirement had led to some of his riders developing some kind of mental block at the Tour, Bruyneel acknowledged: "It's possible. When we started the Tour everyone was physically in good condition, and they were motivated. We're probably missing some reference points from the past few years."

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