July 3, 2005
Despite a 2 second loss by Lance Armstrong to CSC's Dave Zabriskie yesterday, the overall feeling from behind the blue curtain is one of optimism and a strong look ahead to the Team Time Trial on Tuesday. Assistant Director Sportif Dirk Demol called it "a dream start", evidenced by very strong showings by team leader Lance Armstrong and George Hincapie. "It felt great - a better start is hard to imagine. It would have been nice to have had the yellow jersey, but we can't complain," said the team's Director, Johan Bruyneel, before the start of Stage 2 today.
One of the more dramatic moments of the day was Lance passing rival Jan Ullrich, a definite mental message but one not reserved just for the T-Mobile leader. "I think psychologically it was a big blow to them," said team Communications Director Dan Osipow. "Of their 9 riders who started ahead of us, we caught and passed 6 of them, including Jan."
Asst DS Sean Yates noted that Stage 1 was a day when bad things could indeed happen. "In a normal short Prologue you can have a bad day and get away with it. But we knew that yesterday it was imperative to be firing on all cylinders right from the start," he said. "If you're a little bit tired you can lose some significant time, and that's what happened to Ullrich. He had that crash the day before and that certainly didn't help. And to have Jan in front of Lance, well that's a big carrot for him. We know what Lance's like, if there's something there in front of him to chase, he's going to go after it, and if it's Ullrich he's going to try even harder."
Another dramatic moment was when Lance's shoe came out of his pedal just a few strokes into his run. After some review of the day's work, Lance thinks he may have pulled his shoe cover on too tight and that caused a small gap between the cleat and pedal, hence the pull out.
With 8 Discovery Channel riders in the top 34 GC standings, the team is primed and ready to do well in the TTT in just 2 days time. But according to Jim Ochowicz, president of USA cycling, the goal is not just to be in yellow come Tuesday evening. "They don't look to take the yellow jersey, they look to win the entire race. If you get it then, you get it then." Yates agreed, saying "For sure we want to win it, but we also want to put time into our main rivals."
Those 2 main rivals appear to be teams CSC and Phonak, the latter having said they intend to win the TTT. Team Discovery Channel will do its best to make it 3-in-a-row, plus there's a significant chance that an American could be in yellow for the first 10 days of the Tour de France, something that's never been accomplished to date.