With the Tour de Georgia over and Discovery Channel's main man for the Giro d'Italia, Tom Danielson, showing he's ready after his win Stateside, the 27 year-old and his team manager Johan Bruyneel took time to reflect on a stressful but successful week.
"We were all disappointed after the time trial [Stage 3] but we had to stay confident and realize that it was still possible [to win]," said Danielson to ThePacline.com. "For all of us, we had to have the mental energy to bring us back up and focus on the job ahead of us. I'd say that's where Johan came in to play, as he was great in motivating the team."
Bruyneel said that if the gap was at three minutes after the time trial, then winning overall wouldn't have been possible: "even with one minute, it was already a big gap, but it was possible", he said.
"It was good to see Tour [de France] guys like Eki, Chechu, Azevedo and Lance wanting to race and win it. It was also nice to see that everyone believed in such a young guy like Tom. We all knew he could go uphill fast, but he had yet to prove it in a race. It was nice to see them go for it and give their all."
Added Danielson: "I kept telling myself what Lance had been saying to me all week - 'believe in yourself and start acting like you can do this. You have to have more confidence in yourself.' I wanted more than anything to show I could handle pressure and could be there when the team needed me."
While extremely satisfied with the results, Discovery's sporting manager also admitted things have been a little tougher for the team this year, evidenced by the number of second and third place finishes. "If this was last year, probably half of those second place finishes would have been wins," said Bruyneel. "That's just the difference between this year and last year. Last year, it all worked. This year, it's been a bit more difficult."
Popovych returns at Catalunya
Bruyneel was also relieved to hear one of Lance Armstrong's right-hand men for the Tour de France, Yaroslav Popovych, has finally obtained the necessary visa to compete in Europe.
"It's been difficult for him to obtain the necessary visa due to the change in governments but I talked with him today and he finally got it," Bruyneel said. "He's been training well and as of right now, is due to start the Tour of Catalunya (May 16-22), the [Critérium du] Dauphiné Libéré (June 5-12), the new team time trial event (June 19) in Holland and then the Tour. He feels good and at this moment, we don't want to take any risks with him at this stage, so I don't want to put him in a race if he's not fully ready for it. I would rather have him train."
'One of my best' Springs for Hincapie
After a successful Spring campaign, the team's Classics captain, George Hincapie, is now taking a short rest back home in South Carolina before preparing himself for the Tour de France.
With his early season victory in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, followed by a sixth overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, seventh in Flanders, then second in Paris-Roubaix, the 31 year-old rates his season so far as one of his best. "As for as the Spring in general, I feel it was one of my best," said Hincapie.
"Since Milan-San Remo, I feel I was solid in all the races and felt stronger than in years past. I'm pretty happy with the way it went. In Flanders, I made some mistakes and probably could have had a better result without those tactical errors.
"At Roubaix, I think I almost rode the perfect race and just didn't have the speed in the last 100 meters. That's probably the only thing I would have liked to have done different. Boonen was super good - the best he's ever ridden in his life - and was unbeatable. There wasn't anything I could have done different, other than to be in the winning break without Tom, and that wasn't going to be possible."