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Paolo Savoldelli will be racing the upcoming Tour de France to help Discovery Channel boss Lance Armstrong try to win one more maillot jaune, but he said once Big Tex rides into the sunset, France won't feature in his immediate plans.
"We have another young rider on the team, Popovych, who is the future of the team for the Tour," Savoldelli said. "The team believes they can build him up and win the Tour once Lance retires. That's fine with me. The Tour is a special kind of race and I've already been there a few times."
Savoldelli said he's looking forward to helping Armstrong at the Tour to pay back for the support he gave him to join Discovery Channel after two unproductive years at T-Mobile. "It will be an honour to be part of the team as he tries to win a seventh Tour. Lance is so strong. I won't have a problem to help him," Savoldelli continued. "He's a great champion who can attack and open big gaps. I'm just a normal rider who realises my own limits and I win by riding defensively."
Savoldelli's own future won't include cycling. Once he retires, he won't be hanging around the races like many former pros. "You won't see me become a sports director or anything like that," he said. "I enjoy the construction business and some friends and I will work more heavily in that sector. I like to build things.
* Savoldelli's victory of less than 30 seconds was the closest at the Giro since 1976 when Felice Gimondi topped Johan De Muynck by just 19 seconds in 1976. The victory was the first Giro win for the Discovery Channel (formerly US Postal) team in its initial participation in the Italian Grand Tour. The team has won six Tours de France (1999-2004) with Lance Armstrong and one Tour of Spain (2003) with Roberto Heras.
"Finishing up any big Tour is a bit anti-climatic," said Sean Yates, the team's assistant sports manager. "You're hyped up for three weeks and then all of a sudden, it's over. It almost feels like you can go another three weeks.
"Yesterday was a long day," Yates said. "We didn't get to the hotel to half past nine and then still had lots of rushing around to do. We were all still flustered. Everyone did a great job," Yates added. "We knew it wasn't over until we finished up today and hit the line with one lap to go, as that was where the official time was taken. And with one to go, we had Michael Barry at the head with Paolo on his wheel, as we knew one crash or something like that could potentially lose it all. After that, everyone sat up and that was it."
Yates had his own adventure on the road to Milan. It's customary for the winning team to hand out glasses of champagne to every team in the race - "We had two bottles for every team and with two cars in the race, we had 50 bottles in our car," he said. "Then we hit a curb and got a flat tyre." After fixing the flat, Yates followed local police to get back into the race but took a wrong turn and ended up in front of the race and was forced to pull over and wait for the group to pass. "Good to have that happen on the last stage and not in the mountains," Yates said.
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