PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Dicovery Channel supremo Johan Bruyneel and his CSC counterpart Bjarne Riis both appeared confident ahead of what looks set to be a thrilling duel between their two teams in Tuesday's 67.5km team time trial between Tours and Blois.
Bruyneel declared himself satisfied with his nine-man Dicovery Channel line-up having tested tomorrow's course only in training but after further "dummy runs" close to the team's temporary base in the Vende last week. In what might be construed as an affront to Jan Ullrich and his T-Mobile team, Bruyneel named Phonak and CSC as the team's most likely to thwart Discovery. Bookmakers Bluesq.com agree, installing Discovery as their odds-on favourites, CSC at 7-4 and Phonak at 9-2.
As for tactics, Bruyneel revealed that "in the eventuality of a fall or mechanical problem, we'll wait for any of our riders in the first 10 kilometres, but only for Lance [Armstrong] after the 40km mark.
"It's a very important stage, especially for the team's morale," Bruyneel concluded. "I hope that we can win it but I can envisage CSC and Phonak making it hard for us. However, it's not a very difficult course, so I don't expect there to be big gaps between the teams."
Riis is well known as a stickler for preparation in time trials. The 1996 Tour champion asks all of his riders to ride three times per week on their time trial machines, a fact to which many attribute Ivan Basso's remarkable improvement against the clock over the past two seasons. Riis also admitted tonight that he recruited riders like Luke Roberts this winter with at least half an eye on the Tour's team time trial.
"We have been practicing for this since our training camps in January," said the CSC chief. "There is no secret to it, but that doesn't mean that it's easy. The key is to keep the rhythm high and consistent throughout. For 40km, we'll try to stay together, but after that we can't wait for people."
Riis, a two-time winner of team time trials in the Tour, repaid Bruyneel's compliment by naming Discovery Channel and Phonak as the teams to beat. "We hope to win but it's a very delicate discipline in which everything has to come together for you to win."
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM