Armstrong's Tour absence sorely felt - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Armstrong's Tour absence sorely felt

By Julien Pretot 10/07/2006 07:42:20 PM Comments (0)

Lance Armstrong's absence was keenly felt by Discovery Channel at the end of the first week of the Tour de France, as the team reflected on its failure in the time trial, the first big test of the race.

Team manager Johan Bruyneel told reporters before the start of the eighth stage from St Meen-le-Grand to Lorient that they had to be realistic.

"We started the Tour de France with the fact that Lance is not here. The big favourites of the race, we don't have them in the team."

American Armstrong retired after becoming the first man to win seven consecutive Tours from 1999 to 2005.

Discovery's best placed rider overall is Italian Paolo Savoldelli who lies in 13th, 2:10 behind leader Honchar, with Hincapie 17th at 2:30.

"It was definitely not the day George expected, it was not the result the team expected. We have no explanation," said Bruyneel.

The Belgian said that while the team were not in the position they had hoped to be, they would look to start afresh in the Pyrenees.

"A lot of people now have the same interest as us, which means being aggressive, especially in the Pyrenees," he said.

Bruyneel played down his team's chances of bringing back the yellow jersey on the Champs-Elysees on July 23, but refused to admit defeat so early in the race.

"Although we think we could do a great Tour de France, our chances of winning the Tour were small before the start, they are now even smaller after yesterday but it does not mean the Tour is over," he said.

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