Discovery's disbanding

Update 2: Tailwind/Discovery clarifies -- they had a sponsor, but decided that the current doping/ASO/UCI/ProTour/infighting climate was too much to risk. Armstrong: "The guys at ASO are talking about taking the Tour back to national teams like they did in the olden days. If something like that would happen, someone's $15 million investment is worth zero. Issues like that are too unknown. It's too risky to ask for that kind of money. There are too many questions within the sport."

Update: Hincapie to T-Mobile is confirmed

Despite eight Tour de France victories in the past nine years, including first and third place this year, Discovery Channel is disbanding. This comes in the heels of T-Mobile announcing that its sponsorship will continue and on the same day that Contador was busy professing his innocence in Madrid with Bruyneel at his side.

Comparing and contrasting the two teams, Discovery's disbanding comes across as a bit mysterious. Discovery's disbanding was not based on "a failure to find a new sponsor," according to Tailwind spokesman PJ Rabice. Armstrong added, "clearly things need to improve on many levels, with a more unified front, before you would see us venture back into cycling." T-Mobile didn't have the difficulty of finding a new title sponsor, but one wonders then what it was that caused Discovery/Tailwind to cease. The most obvious candidate would be doping-related. T-Mobile has a anti-doping test program; Discovery does not. In spite of this, Discovery never had a rider test positive for doping, whereas T-Mobile had Sinkewitz high profile Tour de France case; T-Mobile also dismissed Honchar earlier in the year as a result of its internal testing. Discovery was hardly squeaky clean: perhaps their big mistake was to poach from the ranks of Operation Puerto: Basso, Contador, and Davis. Basso obviously cost them and Contador is now in the crosshairs.

Hincapie is rumored to be heading to T-Mobile. It will be interesting to see where Levi, Contador, and Danielson end up. Devolder is being sought by CSC, Quick Step, Predictor-Lotto, and Rabobank. Perhaps we will see some more Slipstream announcements, if there's anything left in those coffers after David Millar, Dave Zabriskie, Christian Vande Velde, Magnus Backstedt, Julian Dean and Christophe Laurent. Slipstream could also make a play for Discovery's Pro Tour license, but that might be too much too soon for Slipstream.

related articles: Pro Tour 2007
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