By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Director Sporif Johan Bruyneel announced Friday that he will be retiring from team directing at the end of the 2007 season. "The difficulties in securing a sponsor [for Team Discovery Channel] have been an influence," he admitted. "We decided at the end it wasn't the right time to bring in a big company to pay a lot of money and not be able to guarantee anything. It's an ideal moment to go out on top."
Bruyneel also said that the decision to end now was in an effort to be fair to everyone involved. "If we wanted to keep going we could keep trying to get a sponsor until the end of September," he said. "We wanted to be fair to everyone, and if we made a decision in the back of our mind we have to be honest and tell everybody as soon as possible. We focused on the Tour de France, and 11 days after we communicated to everyone that there would not be a team next year. I feel it is fair timing and I am confident that most of our riders will go away with Discovery stamped on their back, and am sure they are wanted on the market."
When asked specifically what he plans to do after the season ends, Bruyneel said, "I'm retiring from being a director, but I'm pretty sure I'll be doing something else. I don't know what right now. I've always made decisions like that in my life. When I turned professional, I made the decision in one day. When I retired as a cyclist I did it from one day to the other. Three weeks after, I met Lance and became the director of US Postal."
"Personally I don't feel sad about it, it's a sad thing for the sport," said Bruyneel. "There is a time for everything and I'll stay with all of the good memories and I'm proud of what we have done."