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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 July, 2005, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Voyage of Discovery
George HincapieJose AzevedoJohan BruyneelSean Yates

By Matt Majendie

Lance Armstrong sealed a historic seventh Tour de France victory in what was his final race before he retires.

It was a remarkable achievement from a man who has beaten cancer to earn his place in cycling history.

But it is not a one-man show and his team must take its share of the glory for working tirelessly on behalf of the 33-year-old Texan.

BBC Sport speaks to four key figures in the Discovery Channel team - fellow riders George Hincapie and Jose Azevedo, team boss Johan Bruyneel and sporting director Sean Yates - to get an insight into life on the road.

BEST FRIEND - GEORGE HINCAPIE

George Hincapie
My job is to protect a team leader and that, in my case, just so happens to be Lance.

And yes, that's my sole job. To ensure he comes to no harm, ensure he's in the best possible position before the really nasty parts of any climb kick in and ensure he's wearing the yellow jersey for a seventh time in Paris.

Some people don't get it. They say "don't you ever just want to do something for yourself?" which is missing the point.

I know it's hard to fully comprehend for those outside cycling, in fact anyone outside of the team at times.

But the simple fact is that Lance has always been our best positioned rider to win the race so all efforts go on that...

MOUNTAIN LIEUTENANT - JOSE AZEVEDO

Jose Azevedo
Every single rider in the Discovery team knows their role, their goal and everything that needs to be done to achieve it.

It's such a slick set-up, like nothing I've ever known at any previous team.

Sometimes I watch us on television afterwards and think what an awesome sight it is to see as all nine of us strung across the road in single file at the front of the peloton.

But when you're in the mix of it, you think of nothing else except keeping up the tempo.

I have my place in the Discovery train. As the climbs steepen, I try to keep up the pace when some of the other guys slip off the front.

Lance will often urge us to keep pushing, to give it all you've got. When I'm at the front, that's when I give my final 100% blitz before leaving the others to will him to the top.

TEAM BOSS - JOHAN BRUYNEEL

Johan Bruyneel
On the flat stages, the job of a team director is fairly straightforward. The riders don't need me to tell them that they have to keep Lance out of danger near the front.

But I make sure I'm in close contact with them anyway, in case of any problems and so they know we're in support should they need us.

It's in the mountains that my role really kicks in. I keep as close as possible to Lance wherever possible and continually bark into his ear.

While it's easy for me to advise him of the tempo he's travelling at and the best time to breaks, I don't always know the exact moment Lance should start charging.

It's all about encouraging him to do as much damage as possible. It's the same in the time trial.

But sometimes the team boss doesn't always know best. I've been told to keep quiet by Lance before!

SPORTING DIRECTOR - SEAN YATES

Sean Yates
It's a bit odd but I guess strictly speaking I'm Lance's boss, although some days it doesn't feel like it!

We've got a good rapport, having ridden alongside each other in the early part of his career.

But I've got to make sure all the riders are happy and everything is in place, whether that means food, medical back-up or simply getting to the start on time.

I like to think there's mutual respect between myself, Lance and the rest of the riders. As sporting director, I don't shout and scream at them. But I'm not too soft either.




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