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Tour of Georgia - Discovery Channel Team Profile
By Staff
Date: 4/18/2006
Tour of Georgia - Discovery Channel Team Profile

Tour of Georgia - Discovery Channel Team Profile
Tom Danielson is back to defend his title with a team stacked with contenders.

By Bart Hazen

Discovery Channel has been the top team in the early stage races in Europe winning the team G.C. like clockwork placing multiple riders in the top ten and challenging for the Spring Classics. The squad for Georgia is a mix of the team that are preparing for the Giro, Dauphine Libere, Tour du Suisse and eventually the return to le Tour sans Lance.

For the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team it will be an important race in the 2006 season as defending 2005 champion Tom Danielson looks to not only retain his crown, and targets his form for the Giro d'Italia just a few weeks away.

Danielson is supported by a strong Disco squad with Johan Bruyneel on hand in the team car. As usual it is a fit group of riders that take to the road to support Danielson especially in the crucial climbing stages 3 & 4 where Tom was able to demonstrate hid strength and take the lead last year setting aside Floyd Landis and Levi Leipheimer's to arrive at the finish in yellow. Sadly the American fans will miss George Hincapie at the race today as he recovers from injuries suffered at Paris - Roubaix when his steerer tube sheared.

Gerolsteiners Levi Leipheimer isn't present this year while Phonak's Floyd Landis obviously in form and intent on winning the tour could present a challenge... but Discovery is undaunted at the task before them and on the quality of the team they may have a point; but Landis won't make it easy on the Disco lads. Let's look at the squad in support of Tom D.

Discovery Channel
 4 EKIMOV, Viatcheslav DSC RUS
 5 LOWE, Trent DSC AUS
 8 NOVAL, Benjamin DSC ESP

Tom Danielson is the defending champion in the Tour of Georgia. Last year he won the Tour of Georgia ahead of Floyd Landis and Levy Leipheimer. Tom had a very good year last year with also an 8th rank the Vuelta D’Espana. Tom is a very good allround rider and maybe he will win a grand tour one day. After Lance Armstrong has stopped with cycling Tom is America’s great hope for the future. This year he finished already 8th in the Tour of California and 10th in Tirreno Adriatico and he is ready to defend his 2005 title here. Tom Danielson's site

On a question if he is the next Lance Amstrong he said:
“First of all, Lance has left quite a void in American cycling, and there will never be another Lance Armstrong," says Danielson. "For sure American cycling needs more guys to follow and more people to keep pushing it forward. That's my job, and I'm on the best team with the best riders and the best directors in the world so I'm going to work as hard as I can, put my mental focus on, and push as far as I can."  full interview here

After the Tour of Georgia Tom is going to prepare himself for the Giro D’Italia which will start in May. His aim is to get in the top 10 of the final ranking and compete well against the best Italian riders like Cunego, Savoldelli, Basso, Simoni and the Venezuluan José Rujano.

Egoi Martinez 
Egoi is born on 15 May 1978. He started his career in 2002 with Euskaltel and rode for that team until 2005. Since the beginning of 2006 he is a member of the Disco team. Egoi is a good climber and I’m sure his time trial abilities are becoming better and better now he is riding for Discovery. I’m sure we will see Egoi back in July when they will try to get Popovych on the podium in Paris at the Tour de France. Egoi himself won one race so far in his career and that was the Tour de L’avenir in 2003. In 2006 his best result was a 3rd place in the 1st stage of the Vuelta Castilla y Leon. Egoi Martinez site

Viatscheslav Ekimov
Well what do we need to say more about good old Slava Ekimov? The man has a gold value for the team regarding the wins from Lance in the Tour. But Slava has an impressive victory list himself as well, winning 2 times the Olympic Time-Trial, winning the Eneco Tour, winning stages in the Vuelta D’Espana, Tour de Suisse, Dauphine Liberé, Paris Nice, Tour de France (TTT with Discovery and Us Postal), the Championships from Zürich and so on. But the 40 year old rider from Russia is still on the bike and didn’t have thoughts so far with retiring from cycling.

In an interview with Cathy Mehl last year he answered how he stays motivated he answered ()
“Well, if you take cycling as a job and you accept your job seriously, then it becomes easier. The only thing you need to know is what races you’ll do in the year and then you focus on certain periods. It’s almost impossible to go the entire year and be at the same (fitness) level “
More information about Slava read the interview by Cathy Mehl with him from February during the Tour of California. He just returned back from a injury which cost him almost the entire 2005 season.

In the coming Tour of Georgia Slava will be a serious contender to win the Time Trial stage. Further he will be a "Super" domestique for the team leader Tom Danielson. But actually the whole team has the abilities to win this Tour of Georgia.

Trent Lowe
Trent is born on 8 October 1984. He started his pro career last year with Jittery’s Joe and rode a good Tour of Georgia. As a result he landed a contract with Discovery and rode quite well in races like Murcia, Algarve and Castilla y Leon so far. Trent is coming from mountain biking but decided to switch to road cycling. In an interview with cyclingfx  he said:
“There are a few reasons I am changing to road racing, I guess the biggest reason is that I was presented with this amazing opportunity to ride for the Discovery Channel, and it wasn't something I was about to miss. I think a lot of mountain bikers want to ending up on the road. Some of the road races I did this year were great, it made me realize that road racing is the Formula One of cycling and it made me really ambitious to be amongst it more.”

But his first goal for the season will be the Tour of Georgia where he rode very well last year for Jittery’s Joe. Trent is a good climber and if his Time Trial abilities become better he will be a serious contender for the general rankings in the stage races in the future.

Yaroslav Popovych
A true talent and one of the future champions of the sport, Yaroslav "Popo" Popovych made his debut with the Discovery Channel team in 2005. The Ukrainian strongman, just 25 years old, has turned in three eventful years as a pro, keyed by his performances at the Tour of Italy (third in 2003 and fifth in 2004).
 Popovych finished a respectable 12th in his Tour of Italy debut in 2002, his first pro season. Team sports manager Johan Bruyneel expects the former U23 World champion to be a contender for the top step of the podium at the Tour de France in a handful of years and a future team leader.

Prior to joining the professional ranks, Popovych raced for the Italian Vellutex Zoccorinese team that resulted in over 35 victories, including Paris-Roubaix, the Giro Regioni, twice at the Giro del Val d'Aosta and his World Championship in Portugal in 2001. In 2002, Popovych raced for the Belgian-based Landbouwkredit-Colnago team and finished 12th in his Giro debut.

Last year he won the Volta a Catalunya, the team time-trial with Discovery in the Tour, and won the white jersey of best young rider in the same Tour. This year he will focus on the Tour de France and will try to get on the podium in Paris. He will be the leader of the Discovery team. So far in 2006 he won the 2nd stage, a time-trial, in the Vuelta Castilla y Leon. Because the Tour of Georgia is very important for the team Yaroslav is a serious contender to win the race. But like we said already everyone in the team can win.

Jason McCartney
Jason McCartney's exciting 2004 season earned him a spot on the Discovery Channel team's roster in 2005, and the seven-year pro will likely see plenty of action both in the U.S. and Europe.
McCartney surprised many with his stage win and victory in the mountains competition at the Tour de Georgia as a member of the Health Net team. His effort in the tough stage to Dahlonega won him VeloNews' North American "Ride of the Year" honors.
He followed that success with a victory in the U.S. Olympic selection race, earning an automatic spot on the U.S. team. McCartney nearly scooped the favorites at the T-Mobile International in San Francisco, riding solo in the race's later stages and coming close to a dramatic victory. Other season highlights included victories in the Tri-Peaks Challenge and the Snake Alley Criterium in his home state of Iowa.

A solid all-around rider, McCartney won a handful of races in 2003, including two stages and the overall at the Joe Martin Memorial stage race, the Snake Alley Criterium and stages one and four of the Gateway Cup. In 2002, as a member of the Jelly Belly team, he won stages at the International Tour d'Toona and the Tour of Kansas City. In 2001, McCartney won one stage and the overall at the Gateway Cup.

So far in 2006 he was 2nd in the 2nd stage of the Vuelta Castilla y Leon just 1 second behind his teammate Yaroslav Popovych. Jason is a good rider against the clock and a domestique rider for the team in Georgia.

Janez Brajkovic
Janez is born on 18 December 1983. He started his career with the KRKA-Adria Mobil team before switching to Discovery in the middle of 2005. Until then he was the current World Champion U23 in the Time Trial after beating Dutch hope Thomas Dekker.
The Slovenian rider is an excellent rider against the clock and a decent rider in the mountains. He is the hope of Slovenia to do well in one of the Grand Tours in the future and especially the Tour de France. So far in 2006 he was 9th in Castilla y Leon and 18th in the Vuelta a Pais Vasco. In the coming Tour de Georgia he will also be a contender for a top 10 rank in the final classification and the U-23 jersey.

Benjamin Noval
Benjamin is born on 23 January 1979. He started his career with Relax Fuenlabrada in 2001 before switching to US Postal in 2004 after gaining their attention and the worlds when he wore the gold jersey in the Vuelta Espana. For this team, now Discovery of course, he is still riding. Benjamin is a domestique rider in the team and works a lot in the early parts of the races. So far he has 2 victories. These 2 are both the Team Time Trial in de Tour de France (2004 & 2005). Benjamin can climb very good and has a good time trial that’s why he is important for the team in the Tour de France and races like Georgia.
Discovery Team website

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