Tuesday, September 11, 2007

great american team bids farewell on 9-11

The Discovery Channel swan-song began today with the first stage of the Tour of Missouri. Race Director, Johan Bruyneel, arguably established one of the most dominant periods in any sport when riders on his team ended atop the podium in Paris in 8 of the last 9 years. Bruyneel has said he will resign from the sport after this race although rumors were flying around the start line today that Bruneel may be working for a European team next season.

Team Discovery is fielding an elite team and is expected to make a strong statement in their final race. Alberto Contador, 2007 Tour de France winner (above), is joined by fellow Discovery team mates including 2007 3rd-place finisher Levi Leipheimer (below), 2005 White Jersey winner Yaroslav Popovych, and George Hincapie who rode on all 8 winning Tour teams [U.S. Postal and Discovery] and up-and-coming riders like John Devine and Vladamir Gusev. No other team in this field comes close to matching them.

It's hard to say what Discovery's plan is for this race, but expect plenty of attacks and not many opportunities to put a lot of separation between the upper echelon of riders. The Missouri landscape ísn't mountainous enough to play into the strengths of the likes of Contador, but the ever-attacking Popovych may find himself with chances to do serious damage during some of the longer stages with strings of up and down rolling hills and this race may be his chance to finally break to the top as a complete rider if he can show well in the time trial. Bruyneel is likely to watch his riders closely and let the ones whose are riding the best have a shot at the top of the podium.

Attacks will be quick to come on stage 2, although it's unlikely (as in this break during Stage 1) that any break can be sustained through the finish line unless the p-peleton decides to take a day off - unlikely in a 6-day race. The time trial on Wednesday just isn't long enough (18 miles) for the best time-trialers (like Leiphiemer) to build large time gaps, although the elevation gain will likely act to separate the best riders from the rest of the field. Then Thursday and Friday should see plenty of action. These stages are really the best chances for the strongest riders and strongest teams to show what they have given the length of the stages and the rolling terrain. Riders who cannot withstand repeated attacks will likely quickly fall by the wayside and be unable to recover.


Anonymous said...

who won? anyone I know enter? did the race go to Kennett?

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

Winner George Hincapie, Dicovery Channel. Ivan Rodriquez of Toyota United won both the first and last stages in mass field sprints. Slipstream Chilpolte (successors to Discovery?) won team category.