Discovery Channel's Hincapie and Bruyneel Talk 2006 Tour de France

Discovery Team's sports director Johan Bruyneel and 2005 Tour stage winner George Hincapie on their first year without Lance, the game plan, and how the Americans are looking this year.

For the first time in seven years, the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (formally the U.S. Postal Service Team), will have to compete in the Tour de France without their favorite star. Are they worried about riding sans Lance? Not at all, say George Hincapie, Discovery Team member and winner of the 2005 Tour's Stage 15, and Johan Bruyneel, Discovery Team sports director. The two came together for a press conference on Friday to discuss this year's strategies, what Lance will be doing during the Tour, and what it's like to be the underdog.

On why this year's Tour is different:
"We've done exactly the same things we've done in the past. The team is ready. The only thing is that Lance isn't there. And this year, there will be more improvisation." —Bruyneel

"We have different ambitions this year. I don't think that it's going to be a negative thing having more than one leader." —Hincapie

On the game plan:
"Whenever there's an opportunity with one of our riders, no matter who, to win a stage, they'll take it; they'll launch an attack. We're going to ride very differently now. I have a dream scenario in my head, but I prefer not to reveal it." —Bruyneel

On this year's favorites:
"Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich are the favorites and we are the underdogs. The weak point for both of them is that it's been seven years since another team was in charge of the race. Teams and team managers have forgotten how hard it is to deal with the pressure of being the favorites at the Tour de France." —Bruyneel

On whether the Americans have a chance of winning:
"I'm confident that we can win stages and have one or two of our guys placing in the top overall." —Bruyneel

"We have a lot of great Americans. Pretty much everyone at the starting line is capable of winning the race." —Hincapie

On what Bob Roll thinks:
"Bob Roll predicted that I'll win it. Of course I dream of it and think that it's possible. I know that I'm starting the race being as trained as possible. I've done everything I can do." —Hincapie

On fans:
"The fans that Lance has brought to the sport realize what a great sport it is and hopefully they stick around. The excitement for the Tour is still pretty high, even without Lance. There were tons of fans lining the road of the Tour of California." —Hincapie

On Lance's role:
"We're not 100 percent sure if Lance is going to attend. That doesn't mean he doesn't have a role. He's an adviser and he'll be involved with certain decisions. If I have a difficult choice to make, I'm not afraid to call him and ask his advice." —Bruyneel

On the next Lance:
"There is a lot of potential out there, but it's tough to comment on guys who are 20 or 22 years old. I hope they're able to progress to a level that we've got to or even higher." —Hincapie

For more on the 2006 Tour de France, check out the July issue of Outside, now on stands, and starting July 1, check in every day with Outside Online for stage updates, exclusive on-the-scene photo galleries, and race analysis by Chris Carmichael at www.outsideonline.com/2006tour.

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