Viatcheslav Ekimov, Manuel “Triki” Beltran, Paolo “Il Falco” Savodelli, José ‘Ace’ Azevedo, Roger Hammond. Is this the line-up for the next grand tour? No, these are riders who will need to put the letters ex in front of Discovery Channel on their palmares.
Roger is the latest to signal a new chapter in his career. When he took the Discovery job as right hand to George Hincapie, there was quite a bit of criticism that he was going from a big fish in a small pond to the largest pond in cycling. In interviews, he never seemed comfortable in that role. You could see hunger in his eyes. His words were a little too manufactured. He would say at Paris-Roubaix that he was there in support of George Hincapie but if he is not good……
We all know that Discovery does not tolerate anything but the “all for one” attitude. It has served them well and, quite frankly, is the only way to win a bike race. Ask T-Mobile. I figured from the first time I heard Roger interviewed as a Discovery Channel rider at the 2005 Tour of Flanders, that his time would be numbered.
I think a champion needs that desire to be the alpha-male. Roger definitely felt he could win any race he entered. Tom Danielson lacks that quality. He is a domestique in a champion’s body.
Roger stays in the big pond by moving over to T-Mobile. Given the changes going on there, I don’t know if he will get to be the top guy.