Yaroslav Popovych will lead the Discovery Channel team for the 2007 Giro d'Italia from May 12 to June 3. The 27-year-old Ukrainian has completed five Grand Tours in his career (three Giro d'Italias plus two Tour de Frances).
Defending champion Ivan Basso was scheduled to lead the team until he resigned from the team last week. A press release today stated the team's new goal is to place team leader Popovych "as high up as possible in the overall standings."
Sean Yates who will serve as lead Sports Director for the three-week tour, is optimistic about the team's chances.
"[Ivan] Basso leaving our squad was certainly a loss but is not a disaster," said Yates. "Popo was always preparing to do a good Giro, and I think he is on form. If all goes right for him I think he can be on the podium like he has been in the past."
Popovych's best Giro finishes were third and fifth in 2003 and 2004 respectively. In 2005, he won the best young rider competition at the 2005 edition of the Tour de France, finishing 12th overall in the process.
"Aside from working for Popo, we will try to win at least one stage and wear the leader's jersey too, but that can be complicated and waste energy. We have a strong group of guys with a lot of experience in Grand Tours, and Popo will need all of their help and wisdom to get him onto the podium."
Popovych will be joined by teammates: Volodymyr Bileka, Steve Cummings, Pavel Padrnos, Jose Luis "Chechu" Rubiera, Tomas Vaitkus, Brian Vandborg, Jurgen Van Goolen, and Matthew "Whitey" White.