By Greg Johnson in Adelaide, Australia
Astana team director Johan Bruyneel said he's delighted that his former employee Allan Davis was able to win a Tour Down Under stage today for his new team. Davis outsprinted his rivals from a select bunch on today's stage to take the race's overall lead.
The Quick Step rider rode for Bruyneel's Discovery Channel squad in its final season in 2007.
"I'm very happy for him, it's been a very hard one and a half years for him," said Bruyneel. "Honestly, I didn't think, I mean, we all thought it wasn't going to be a sprinter's stage today. But for him to be able to win the stage after all the difficulties he had it's very good to see.
"Obviously if we couldn't win today, we were happy to see him win at least," he added.
Davis was implicated in the Spanish Operación Puerto investigation in 2006, along with four of his Astana-Würth team mates. The rider was subsequently cleared of any involvement with the doping inquiry that brought down riders like Ivan Basso, who was also to ride for Discovery Channel in 2007 before admitting his involvement in the case.
Lance Armstrong, who was a part owner in Discovery Channel in 2007 and was racing in today's event, also said he was proud of Davis. Armstrong compared his own situation with that of Davis.
"Obviously he got caught up in Puerto, and when you have things like that some people are guilty and some people kind of just get caught up in it," he said. "Seems to me, I don't know all the details, but it seems to me it looks like he might have been one of those ones that just got tarnished because of the team he was on and you hate to see that.
"But hell, these guys, they persevere, if they don't have a team or they are on a very small team they continue to focus and train hard and then they come back," added Armstrong. "It's not that different to what someone like me has gone through, you have a year and you're out, people say you're done, and they don't give you chances, then you come back and you come back with vengeance. So for me I'm proud of him."
Davis now leads the race heading into tomorrow's stage 3. He has a three-second lead over German André Greipel (Team Columbia - High Road), who led the race heading into today's stage.