Friday, July 07, 2006
George on Top
Hincapie poised to take leader's role
Posted on 06 July 2006 - 15:34
American George Hincapie is poised to take the leader's role in the Discovery Channel team at the Tour de France.
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"George is definitely one of our top guys," team manager Johan Bruyneel told reporters before the start of the 225-km fifth stage between Beauvais and Caen on Thursday.
"He can finish high overall. He is the best of our riders in the time trials so I think he is going to be our top guy after the time trial in Rennes (on Saturday)."
The American team are competing in their first Tour de France without Lance Armstrong after the Texan retired following his seventh victory.
Hincapie, third in the overall standings with a five-second deficit on leader Tom Boonen of Belgium, was Armstrong's faithful lieutenant in his friend's seven victorious campaigns on the French roads from 1999 to 2005.
Bruyneel hinted former Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli, Portuguese Jose Azevedo and Yaroslav Popovych would be perfect to help out Hincapie.
The Belgian ruled out the Ukrainian youngster as a possible team leader.
"Popovych is excellent but he is not experienced. We do not want to put too much pressure on him," said Bruyneel.
"As for Savoldelli, he is not too bad in the time trials but the Tour de France is not the same thing as the Giro.
"Azevedo is a very good climber."