Cycling: Popovych win offers downcast Discovery team a path forward

One year after Lance Armstrong's departure, his former team continue to triumph in the Tour de France - but for now their upper limit are stage wins like yesterday's, won in a lone move by the Texan's former team-mate, Yaroslav Popovych.

After taking off from a break three kilometres from the line, the fervently religious Ukrainian made the sign of the cross three times before he raised his arms in the air for the first Tour stage win of his career.

"I prayed for strength." the Discovery Channel rider said later, "in fact, I prayed all the way through the stage." As little as 12 months ago, success in Tour stages like yesterday's to Carcassonne - of little significance overall - was largely dependent on a rather more terrestrial kind of divinity: Popovych's former team leader, the seven-times Tour winner Lance Armstrong.

The Texan would personally vet the composition of any breaks before letting it go and if any riders present did not meet with Armstrong's approval, the move would be quickly reeled in by his blue-clad Discovery troops - Popovych among them.

Since the second stage of the Pyrenees on Wednesday, though, after the Discovery Channel leader George Hincapie finished over 20 minutes down, the boot has been truly on the other foot.

"You could class the Tour as a disaster for us," the Briton Sean Yates, an assistant directeur sportif for Discovery, said prior to Popovych's victory. "At least the overall is history now for us." To make matters worse, the American team have suddenly become cursed with the sort of bad luck that always mysteriously plagued their rivals during the Armstrong years.

Popovych's team-mate Paolo Savoldelli started yesterday's stage with 13 stitches in his forehead after riding into a spectator at high speed the day before.

The Italian did not get far: 15 riders, 12 of them former Tour stage winners, were largely to blame when they charged away as the race crossed the foothills of the Pyrenees. A furious chase ensued, with 47 kilometres covered in the first hour of racing - this despite temperatures hitting the high thirties and tarmac melting in the heat.

The 15 were eventually reeled in, but it was all too much for Savoldelli, who zigzagged to the side of the road and abandoned. His injured team-mate Benjamin Noval followed him soon after.

If the news from the back end of the race was anything but good for Discovery, up front Popovych's stage win saved the day for the Americans.

But even the Ukrainian admitted that it was "just as well" that they had not heard from Armstrong, the part owner of the team - as a pro, he was never slow to give a roasting to any riders he considered to be slacking, "Johan [Bruyneel, team manager] told us all today that a new Tour begins for us, looking only for stage wins," he explained.

Ironically enough, these are exactly the same consolation prizes that Armstrong's rivals were forced to settle for during the American's hegemony: after seven years, Discovery are finally finding out what it felt like to be at the other end of the stick.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £60,000

£25000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Care Workers Required - The London Borough of Bromley

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This homecare agency is based in Beckenh...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executives - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about Custom...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas