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Discovery hoped for better things from Tour

While Floyd Landis was enjoying his moment in the French sun atop the winner’s podium at the Tour de France, riders from Discovery Channel were wondering how they could rediscover their mojo. The defending Tour-winning team entered this year’s race with high hopes, but fell flat in the Pyrenees and could never regain its footing in the Alps. José Azevedo was the best among the GC in 19th at 38:08 back. The team had some high points, earning the yellow jersey with George Hincapie in Stage 1 and claiming a stage victory in Stage 12 into Carcassone with Yaroslav Popovych. Both riders were

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By Andrew Hood

While Floyd Landis was enjoying his moment in the French sun atop the winner’s podium at the Tour de France, riders from Discovery Channel were wondering how they could rediscover their mojo.

The defending Tour-winning team entered this year’s race with high hopes, but fell flat in the Pyrenees and could never regain its footing in the Alps. José Azevedo was the best among the GC in 19th at 38:08 back.

The team had some high points, earning the yellow jersey with George Hincapie in Stage 1 and claiming a stage victory in Stage 12 into Carcassone with Yaroslav Popovych. Both riders were hoping for high spots in the GC – but Hincapie wound up 32nd and Popovych 25th.

“The Tour didn’t go the way I wanted, it was really disappointing for me,” Hincapie said at the finish line. “I don’t know about next year. I got to think about it and see what I want to do for next year.”

The team already knew it was going to be a different Tour without the presence of seven-time champion Lance Armstrong. Without a clear leader, the team was hoping to send Hincapie, Azevedo, Popovych and two-time Giro champ Paolo Savoldelli on the attack.

“This is a Tour in a period of transition,” said Discovery Channel director Johan Bruyneel. “We wore the yellow jersey and won a stage but our objectives were greater than that. Popovych is a rider with a lot of class who is also very aggressive. Right now, however, we will consider some changes that should allow us to be better next year. I believe we need to be more focused on having just one leader.”

The team did enjoy one nice touch in Paris, when the peloton allowed Russian veteran Viatcheslav Ekimov, a veteran of 15 Tours, to lead the bunch across the line during its first passage on the Champs-Élysées.