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Team Report: Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
 
By Cathy Mehl
Date: 3/16/2006
Team Report: Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
 
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This report filed by PJ Rabice of Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team

To date, the Discovery Channel Team has had some solid shows of strength from a variety of riders to open the 2006 season and oddly enough, none of their last names have been Armstrong.  At the inaugural Amgen Tour of California, George Hincapie captured 2 stage wins and finished 4th place overall. Over in Europe, Leif Hoste has shown great early season fitness with a 2nd place at the 1-day race, Kuurne Brussels Kuurne, as well as a 2nd place finish in the individual time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico.  Additionally, Jose Azevedo, Chechu Rubiera (6th and 9th overall at Paris-Nice), Roger Hammond (3rd in stage –Ruta del Sol), Paolo Savoldelli, George Hincapie and Tom Danielson (4th, 8th and 10th overall respectively) have all shown great form in the first month of racing with nothing more in their legs than some “non-specific” early season fitness.  You know, the kind of fitness that we mere mortals of cycling, treadmills and swimming laps would die for and that these guys can obtain in about one months time. 

Triki Beltran at Vuelta Murcia 

A little about George-

During the Tour of California I spent a fair amount of time with George Hincapie in the holding tent after each of his 2 stage wins and green jersey podium appearance.  And what became very clear to me was that these early season wins had filled him with confidence.  George couldn’t help but smile about each of his wins as they were both the end result of his teammate’s hard work. In both instances his teammates worked hard to protect him over a climb and down into the valley below so that he could sprint away in the final meters of the race for the win.   

However, even with his first win of the 2006 season secure he was clearly looking ahead to the month of July.  As we waited for the podium ceremony after George won the hilly stage into San Jose where he was dropped on the final climb, I put George on the phone with team director Johan Bruyneel.  George’s first words to Johan were, “Don’t lose faith in me for the Tour. I’m going to lose some weight and be good in the mountains.”  Johan told me later at the hotel that George’s climbing was of no concern to him at this early point in the season and that he was simply happy to see him win and gain some early season confidence. It was clear that Johan knows George’s work ethic and professionalism and is confident that he will be prepared come July.

 

 The Boys protecting George all the way to the line in CA

  

George making his teammates very happy

 

More recently, I sent a note to George congratulating him and commenting on his good fitness after he contested a sprint finish at Tirreno-Adriatico alongside speedsters such as Thor Hushovd and Alessandro Petacchi finishing 5th on the day. While some would be satisfied with a 5th place stage finish, George’s response to me was, “That’s nothing, wait until I feel normal again.” George was referring to his transatlantic flight, 9 hours of jet lag and a minor cold.  George is clearly starting to feel better with his form coming along as he gets closer to his upcoming objective, the spring classic races - Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

 

Tom Danielson: Traveling, Quacking and the Ford Tour de Georgia-

After a sold effort at the Tour of California Tom suffered through the woes of international travel as he: missed his initial flight out of LA, spent the night in LA grabbing dinner with Mark Higgins and I, relaxed in LA the following the day, flew to Barcelona through London only to find out that, oops, his bikes didn’t make it……….sorry Mr. Danielson.  So what’s a guy to do?  Well, Tom, and Johan, took it all in stride and removed Tom from the start list for Paris-Nice, replaced him with Roger Hammond, and moved him over to race Tirreno-Adriatico (TA) providing him a few extra days of rest. 

After a few days of racing in Italy I caught up with Tom and his first comments to me about TA were that there was a lot of “quacking” going on.  Huh? Yes, quacking or as some call it “argie bargie”.  So what is it you say?  Tom describes quacking as this, “it’s when you are in a race with a bunch of guys, in this case the spring classics tough guys, and they are bumping and grinding the whole day for position in the peloton”……….all of the things that Tom, a 135lb climber hates.  “The roads are narrow, the pace is super high and guys are constantly battling for position trying to put you in the gutter,” stated Danielson.  Unfortunately Tom’s worst fears about all of the quacking came true as he crashed in the final 1000m of last Saturday’s stage in the midst of some “quacking” during the final sprint.  Tom found himself lying on the ground unsure of what exactly happened.  Tom’s ok….a little sore but recovering well in Girona, Spain.  His initial response to me when asked if he was ok, “Come on PJ, I’m from the East Coast, of course I’m ok but I think I bruised my spine.” I told him I didn’t think that was possible.   

Tom putting the pressure on Levi 

As for the upcoming Tour de Georgia where Tom is the defending champion, he told me that, “I am very motivated to perform well with the ultimate goal of defending my title.”  This race comes just prior to one of his season’s top objectives, the Giro d’Italia.  The Tour de Georgia course suits Tom well with both a Time Trial and climbing stages highlighted by the epic stage finish on top of Brasstown Bald, a stage that Tom won in 2005.  Tom told me, “I’m really excited to come back to race in the U.S and specifically Georgia.  There’s nothing like having fans cheering your name. It’s amazing how much racing at home can motivate you to race at a higher level and hope that I will be able to successfully defend my title in Georgia.”


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