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Old 07-18-04, 05:51 AM   #1
Richard Cranium
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USPS - How does Europe view TDF focus?

Anyone who follows procycling and understands exercise physiology knows why Armstrong and the USPS had the TDF "locked up" even before it started. With a big budget, the USPS team has been conducted with one, and only one goal -- win the TDF, GC.

The TTT and the monutain stages have demonstrated what a "fresh team" with all it's riders directed to helping one rider can do.

From:CyclingNews.com
"Levi Leipheimer testified as to the absolute vice-like control the USPS team had on Stage 13 at that point. "On the climb of the Agnes, it was unbelievable...I counted 22 riders in the group, with seven US Postal guys in front. I've never seen anything like that."

Can the TDF survive if only one team directs it's entire season to placing a rider on the GC podium?

Is this a "freak" of coincidence that a rider like Armstrong has a team like USPS? Could another team been
as dominating given the single focus of winning the Tour GC?
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Old 07-18-04, 09:22 AM   #2
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Don't discount that the biggest reason they win is LA himself. Granted, he has an amazing team, ds and support staff, but none of that would be relevant if it wasn't for Lance.

I don't agree with your premise of only one team directing its focus toward the TDF. Mayo, Ullrich, Hamilton and Heras were also focused only on the Tour. Some had problems (T Mobile and Hamilton) and others just weren't up to it (Heras and Mayo).

Next year will change everything with the pro tour. Since the teams will have to compete in all three Grand Tours they will have difficulty just focusing on one.
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Old 07-18-04, 09:46 AM   #3
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Also Heras, Hamilton, and Leipheimer are former USPS team members and have not been as successful on their own.
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Old 07-18-04, 10:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Cranium
Can the TDF survive if only one team directs it's entire season to placing a rider on the GC podium?

Is this a "freak" of coincidence that a rider like Armstrong has a team like USPS? Could another team been
as dominating given the single focus of winning the Tour GC?
There is NOTHING preventing any other team from investing the same amount of MONEY, Time, Technology and HARD WORK as the USPS team puts into its training.

Anyone can win if they had as much drive as USPS and Lance, they just don't.
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Old 07-18-04, 12:18 PM   #5
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anyway, the original poster is wrong. heras' team and tyler's team and jan's team and mayo's team all prepare for the tour and only the tour. the rest of the races they do are warm-ups/training for the tour. the tour has at LEAST 5 teams that specialize SOLELY for the tour. that said, it's not even like every single member of USPS is "solely" the tour; hincapie takes the spring classics very seriously.

lance's team just happens to be the one that prepares the BEST for the tour.

also it's a misconception that lance's team is "so well funded". they're middle-of-the-pack financially, at least according to the velonews team profiles in the tdf guide that list each team's financial resources.

sd
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Old 07-18-04, 12:25 PM   #6
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All in all, USPS and LA have given the TdF a place in the sporting world it has never had ... worldwide popularity. It has always been "the grand tour", but it has now been elevated to a worldwide spectacle ... many non-cyclists talk about the TdF over the water cooler, and many will become cyclists because of the USPS and LA.

Like it or not, the current "American Team" have given the TdF a boost that it has never had. I'm sure LeBlanc is not complaining about the airtime and merch deals he has made these past five years.

I have been cycling since the 70s, when my first helmet was a "hair net", and I couldn't be happier for the success of the USPS dynasty. It is only a matter of time before some other teams join the ranks of the Postal marketing machine ... like the Yankees, the Cowboys and the Lakers, Team dynasties rise and fall.

It's Postal started the trend, and as with the race itself ... it's up to the competition to keep up if they can. The next few years of cycling could get awful exciting.

Money changes everything ...
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Old 07-18-04, 12:43 PM   #7
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All in all, USPS and LA have given the TdF a place in the sporting world it has never had ... worldwide popularity.

Only if worldwide means USA. It's a European event with some popularity in the USA and Australia. How popular is the tour in Asia and Africa, or South America?
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Old 07-18-04, 01:08 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velonuts
Money changes everything ...
Its funny. I can see your point. But I find money destroy sports. Not in moderation, I think they deserve to have a living. But when too much money comes into a sport, its takes away from the sport itself.

Luckily I am a mtb fan and there is 0 money in that sport, so I have no worries about money corrupting
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Old 07-18-04, 01:16 PM   #9
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Good question ... anyone from Asia or S. America have the answers?

I would say it is worldwide in the countries that the economies allow for cycling exposure .. though Asia does not have anyone to support in the TdF, cycling is widespread among the Asian countries, and I don't know about you, but I have Japanese compnents on all four of my bikes.

I supposed the term "worlwide" is suspect ... in the sense of the U.S./Europe slant of the original post ... but cycling is easily gaining world wide exposure, where politics and economics (sales of TVs) will allow. Perhaps the sales of bikes in America, Europe and Australia contribute to the Asian awareness, since it certainly contributes to the share of frames and components coming out of their factories.

I wonder if the large spanish population of S. America are aware of the spanish cycling contingent. Do they have TV down there ... Argentina, Peru and Chile some of the countries that would be exposed to cycling right now. I have seen plenty of cycling in Benos Aries over the winter ... hmmm.

I think the exposure from the TdF is worldwide ... but I could be wrong.
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Old 07-18-04, 01:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velonuts
I would say it is worldwide in the countries that the economies allow for cycling exposure .. though Asia does not have anyone to support in the TdF, cycling is widespread among the Asian countries, and I don't know about you, but I have Japanese compnents on all four of my bikes.
I think the difference would be, Asia's love of cycling has nothing to do with racing, tdf or lance. The exposure is a moot point in that area of the world.
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Old 07-18-04, 02:22 PM   #11
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Without a debate here, the term "worldwide" may have been a stretch ... it seamed o.k. when I wrote it ... assuming "worldwide" was refering to other parts of the world, not a blanket over the world.

The point being, that the Europeans (especially France) are not likely to feel adversly to USPS and LA based on the growth the TdF have recieved in recent years overseas. The traditionalists may wish for "old school" as status quo, but the influx of $$$ into the race has put it onto a much broader stage. The french are staunchly proud of their grand tour, but it is the Americans that have raised the bar ...

I hope the Europeans follow suit, it will make for a greater race, in the pro series of races starting next season. This may be the end of one teams dominance in the TdF.
Maybe with the new racing format it will be the U.S team that will have to play catch up unless they continue to use the schedule as a training platform for the TdF. ...
we'll see.
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Old 07-18-04, 02:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollow
I don't agree with your premise of only one team directing its focus toward the TDF. Mayo, Ullrich, Hamilton and Heras were also focused only on the Tour. Some had problems (T Mobile and Hamilton) and others just weren't up to it (Heras and Mayo).
...This is simply not true. No other team is focused on the TdF like USPS.

Take for example T-Mobile compared to USPS. The Germans play two horses: Vino and Jan (given, Vino is out but that wasn't planned). The Americans just Armstrong. The Germans play Zabel as an extra card, where Lance brings eight helpers all dedicated to his success. This means the Germans would bring only six riders to help Jan, Vino and Zabel, Lance has eight helpers all for himself. They didn't bring their sprinter, Van Heeswijk, because the team is focused on the GC. This also means that T-Mobile helpers are involved in the build-up to a sprint for Zabel which costs them power they could otherwise use in the mountains.

Also, the teams you mention are not "focused only on the Tour". For Phonak and T-Mobile the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie are important targets as well, for Euskatel, Liberty and Isles Baleares the Vualta and the considerable number of smaller Spanish rounds are top priority. T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner, Phonak focus on the Tour of Germany andT-Mobile, Phonak and others focus on the spring classics with the same riders who compete in the TdF for the GC (Vino, Hamilton, etc.) where Lance only rides the Gold Race.
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Old 07-18-04, 02:56 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo
...This is simply not true. No other team is focused on the TdF like USPS.

Take for example T-Mobile compared to USPS. The Germans play two horses: Vino and Jan (given, Vino is out but that wasn't planned). The Americans just Armstrong. The Germans play Zabel as an extra card, where Lance brings eight helpers all dedicated to his success. This means the Germans would bring only six riders to help Jan, Vino and Zabel, Lance has eight helpers all for himself. They didn't bring their sprinter, Van Heeswijk, because the team is focused on the GC. This also means that T-Mobile helpers are involved in the build-up to a sprint for Zabel which costs them power they could otherwise use in the mountains.

Also, the teams you mention are not "focused only on the Tour". For Phonak and T-Mobile the Tour de Suisse and the Tour de Romandie are important targets as well, for Euskatel, Liberty and Isles Baleares the Vualta and the considerable number of smaller Spanish rounds are top priority. T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner, Phonak focus on the Tour of Germany andT-Mobile, Phonak and others focus on the spring classics with the same riders who compete in the TdF for the GC (Vino, Hamilton, etc.) where Lance only rides the Gold Race.
You proved my point. You can't tell me that T Mobile is equally focused on the Tour de Suisse, Romandie or Germany as they were the Tour. If they were, then that probably explains why Jan isn't doing so well. And to focus on the TDF usually means for the GC. Again, your point is suspect. Clearly, T Mobile wasn't focused on the TDF if they were thinking about sprinters and multiple GC contenders.

Just because other teams participate in other races doesn't mean that there main focus wasn't on the Tour. To say otherwise is just foolish. Find me one statement from Jan, Roberto, Tyler or Iban (or their teams) saying that their focus this year was on the Tour of Romandie, Suisse, or any other spring classic or stage race. It was on the TDF, it just didn't happen for them.

USPS isn't only focused on the Tour. It seems they raced some of the same races as the other teams, even won some. Max Van Heeswijk had a good spring. They (and other teams) use other races as preparation for the TDF.
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Old 07-18-04, 03:28 PM   #14
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All I'm saying is that you can't compare the way USPS focuses on the Tour with the way other teams prepare for this event. I don't say they're equally focused on these other events but fact is that they are also focused on these races. USPS is not, apart from Paris-Roubaix with Van Heeswijk and Hincapie. They don't care about winning for example Vlaanderen, San Remo, the Tour de Romandie, Deutschland Tour or the other races. For riders like Vino and Hamilton these races are targets as well. They start in races from February to June and try to win them. When they are riding these races, Armstrong and his team mates for the TdF are in training, riding the mountain stages of the Tour as a test, etc. Perhaps they all have the Tour as main target but, unlike Armstrong and his team, they don't have the Tour as only goal. And they don't focus on one rider.
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Old 07-18-04, 03:39 PM   #15
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BTW, you wrote...
Quote:
Originally Posted by hollow
USPS isn't only focused on the Tour. It seems they raced some of the same races as the other teams, even won some. Max Van Heeswijk had a good spring. They (and other teams) use other races as preparation for the TDF.
...Vino, Hamilton and others win such events (last year Vino the Gold race and Hamilton LBL), yet they also compete in the TdF for the GC. Tell me, did you see Armstrong or any of his TdF team mates in those spring races? They were not there, let alone tried to actually win such races. Did you see USPS in the Tour de Romandie, the Deutschland Tour, the Tour du Suisse? They were not there.

Max van Heeswijk had a good spring, certainly. Is he in the TdF team? Can you name one spring race, besides a minor race in Portugal which was used to test their TdF equipment, in which a USPS TdF rider finished top-3?
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Old 07-18-04, 03:44 PM   #16
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Correction "former USPS team members".
There's an edit button next to the reply button on your posts
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Old 07-18-04, 06:03 PM   #17
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Lance & the TdF: Based on what I've read and heard out of Lance Armstrong and just about anyone else who is close to him (Bobke, Carmichael, Johan, etc..), only one race matters to Lance and he has no qualms about telling anyone; his focus has been and remains winning the Tour de France. As for the folks trying to argue that is not the case, just what exactly is wrong with that? The rules have allowed it and it makes sense from a marketing standpoint which, like it or not, is what professional sports are all about... As for what the other teams "focus" on, does it really matter?

USPS & Money: As someone else has already noted, in terms of budgets the USPS team does NOT have the largest budget of the Division I Trade Teams; try #7 according to Velonews.

T-Mobile: $14.4m
Rabobank: $10.8m
Quick Step - Davitamon: $9.6m
Gerolsteiner: $9.6m
Confidis: $9.6m
Phonak: $9.6m
USPS - Berry Floor: $9m
Credit Agricole: $8.6m
Brioches La Boulangere: $7.2m
Liberty Seguros: $7.2m
Lotto-Domo: $7.2m
Euskaltel-Euskadi: $7.2m
Fassa Bortolo: $6.6m
DFJeux.com: $6.6m
Illes Baleares: $6.6m
CSC: $5.4m
Saeco: $5.2m
AG2R: $4.8m
RAGT Semences: $3.8m
Alessio - Biachi: $3.6m
Domina Vacanze: $3m
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Old 07-18-04, 07:26 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by livngood
As for the folks trying to argue that is not the case, just what exactly is wrong with that?
..who said there is something wrong with it? Thing is, people make it sound like many teams are focused on the Tour the way USPS is and that not true.
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Old 07-18-04, 08:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timo
..who said there is something wrong with it? Thing is, people make it sound like many teams are focused on the Tour the way USPS is and that not true.



It is in fact a mistake if they really have any thoughts of winning. It is a mistake that means they WILL LOSE and Lance WILL WIN.

A team aspiring to defeat Armstrong needs to set their eye on the same race period of accept a loss.

T Mobile could win IMO. Leave Zabel at home eating sourkraut and give their GC contender total support with an entire team focused on GC. Forget winning meaningless 200 meter dashes to the finish lines for insignificant stage wins and support Jan 100% and I beleive he can deliver the goods.

BTW, sprinting is cool and I love to see the gut wrenching drives to the finishes on flat stages but no pure sprinting specialist is going to be within a half an hour of the hardcore climbers after the mountains are done. It takes a truly talented and balanced rider to make the mountains too painful for the competition and keep pace on ITT stages.Let the sprinters play thier little games on the flats and just keep the GC contenders in check. Stage victories in the flats will not make a winning tour bid.
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Old 07-19-04, 08:15 AM   #20
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I guess, I missed the answer. I was asking if European riders, [and their DSs] are thinking about what kind team and season is necessary to compete for the GC?

If, sponsor demands continue to split team activities or "focus", will the TDF suffer if the American team contiunes to dominate Tour?
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Old 07-19-04, 10:51 AM   #21
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...Vino, Hamilton and others win such events (last year Vino the Gold race and Hamilton LBL), yet they also compete in the TdF for the GC. Tell me, did you see Armstrong or any of his TdF team mates in those spring races? They were not there, let alone tried to actually win such races. Did you see USPS in the Tour de Romandie, the Deutschland Tour, the Tour du Suisse? They were not there.
Here is the tentative USPS racing schedule for this year;

JANUARY
20 - 29 Training Camp Solvang, CA
30 - 1 Feb Champions Weekend Scottsdale, AZ

FEBRUARY
18 - 22 Tour of Algarve, POR 2.3
21 Tour du Haut Var, FRA 1.2
22 Classic Haribo, FRA 1.3
28 Omloop Het Volk, BEL 1.1
29 Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, BEL 1.2
29 Clasica de Almeria, ESP 1.3

MARCH
02 - 06 Tour of Murcia, ESP 2.3
07 - 14 Paris - Nice, FRA HC
20 Milan - San Remo, ITA CDM
24 Dwars door Vlaanderen Waregem, BEL 1.2
23 - 28 Redlands Classic, USA ---
29 GP E3 - Harelbeke, BEL 1.1
27 - 28 Criterium International, FRA 2.1
30 - 1 April Three Days of the Panne, BEL 2.2

APRIL
04 Tour of Flanders, BEL CDM
06 - 09 Circuit de la Sarthe, FRA 2.3
07 Gent - Wevelgem, BEL HC
11 Paris-Roubaix, FRA CDM
13 Paris-Camembert, FRA 1.2
18 Amstel Gold Race, NED CDM
20 - 25 Tour of Georgia, USA 2.3
OR
28 - 2 May Tour of the Gila, USA ---
21 La Flèche Wallonne, BEL HC
25 Liège - Bastogne - Liège, BEL CDM

MAY
05 - 09 Four Days of Dunkerque, FRA 2.1
19 - 23 Tour of Belgium, BEL 2.3
19 - 23 Languedoc Rousillon, FRA 2.1

JUNE
01 Wachovia Invitational, USA 1.3
02 - 06 Bicicleta Vasca, ESP 2.1
03 Wachovia Classic, USA 1.3
06 U.S. Pro Championship, USA 1.2
14 - 20 Tour of Catalunya, ESP HC
15 - 19 U.S. Olympic Trials, USA ---
19 - 22 Route du Sud, FRA 2.3

JULY
03 - 25 Tour de France, FRA GT
21 - 25 Sachsen-Tour International, GER 2.3

AUGUST
01 HEW-Cyclassics Cup, GER CDM
01 New York City Championship, USA ---
04 - 08 Tour of Denmark, DEN 2.2
07 Clasica San Sebastian, ESP CDM
14 Olympic Road Race, GRE ---
17 - 20 Tour du Limousin, FRA 2.3
18 Olympic Time Trial, GRE ---
21-22 U.S. Pro Criterium Championship, USA 1.3
22 Championship of Zurich, SUI CDM
24 - 28 Tour of Holland, NED 2.1

SEPTEMBER
04 - 26 Tour of Spain, ESP GT
04 - 05 Vail Classic, USA 1.3
12 T-Mobile International, USA 1.2
29 World Championship Time Trial, ITA ---

OCTOBER
03 World Championship Road Race, ITA ---
10 Paris-Tours, FRA CDM


USPS is more than just Lance.

http://www.uspsprocycling.com/newsfile/welcome.htm
There are quite a few races these guys are at and are "winning" (stages or overall).

EDIT: In regards to other teams and preparing, that is exactly what the other top teams do. T-Mobile has a rider squad probably bigger than USPS, they have to pick which 9 riders to take to the tour. Ditto I'm sure for the other teams as well. So the top GC rider of each team won't show up at all the classics and other grand tours while the team itself will. For instance, we saw Ullrich in the TdS, but that was as much a preperation race for the TdF as actually going to race. This year has been bad for the other top teams, lots of shake-ups in the field, new teams, etc. All of that will effect a team and how it rides. One of USPS's strengths has been it's stability the past few years, the number of "new" riders on the team doesn't outweigh the number of "old" riders, etc.

Andrew

Last edited by Ajay213; 07-19-04 at 11:12 AM.
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Old 07-19-04, 03:47 PM   #22
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It's interesting to look at what teams have won the big races this year.

Paris Nice - CSC, Gerolsteiner, CSC
Tirreno Adriatico - Quickstep, Rabobank. T-Mobile
Milan San Remo - Rabobank, T-Mobile, Cofidis
Tour of Flanders - T-Mobile, Lotto, Chocolade Jacques
Gent-Wevelgem - Quickstep, Alessio, AG2R
Paris Roubaix - Alesio, CSC, Mr. Bookmaker
Amstel Gold - Gerolsteiner, Rabobank, Quickstep
Flèche Wallonne - Gerolsteiner, Saeco, T-Mobile
Liege Bastogne Liege - Gerolsteiner, Rabobank, T-Mobile
Tour of Romandy - Phonak, Saunier, Saunier
Criterium International - CSC, Illes Balears-Banesto, Cofidis
Dauphiné Libéré - Euskaltel-Euskadi, Phonak, Phonak

There's a point to be made here. I'm not sure what exactly.
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Old 07-19-04, 04:12 PM   #23
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I think you're making the point I'm making. Where's USPS? Vino wins three stages in Paris-Nice, Hamilton wins the Tour de Suisse. Where are any if the USPS TdF riders?
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Old 07-21-04, 02:36 AM   #24
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Look at teh name of the team United States Postal Services (USPS) - Berry Floor.

I've never had mail delivered to my door in Europe by USPS and the floors in my house were not laid by Berry Floor. Perhaps thats says something of the racing schedule of the Posties.

They have to satisfy their sponsors needs for exposure. Thats what USPS pays for, exposure.
Last year they were taken to court for nt beinging enough value to the sponsorship deal because the team earns it's value in europe not in America, Hence the end of the USPS sponsorship deal at the end of this year.

All the other teams are based in Europe, with european sponsors. The TDF is a european race afterall "Tour De France" meaning "lap of France".
Hence for the USPS team, their main focus is the only race that receives any majr coverage in the US, The TdF. The obnly reason it receives covereage is because theres an American, cancer survivor who's winning it, in France. makes really great TV doesn't it.

This of course gives the posties a big advantage because they can race in the US without too much fuss and medling from the press, gain as much local exposure for their sponsor in a country where everyone speaks English, well most anyway and tehn head off to Europe to ride the one event where they can earn their TV hours in one go, without over stressing their riders.

European based teams with european sponsors are kept far more busy because they have to satify their sponsors in every part of europe. Thats the market here. Hence riders have to race more, because it's demanded of them.
I diubt Lance would as dominant as he is if he raced for a european team. He would be too overworked and would have the same recovery problems that the likes of Mayo, Ullrich, Hamilton and Leipheimer are suffering from. Not just bad form, but also over worked.

Given that Lance has raced in other european events, he has used them for training and not gone out there for a win. The other riders have to go out there to win continuously which is very stressful. I think the USPS approach will help Lance ride another TdF next year.

Perhaps it's not fair, but it's a situation that works and it delivers results for the sponsors and the riders.
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Old 07-21-04, 03:34 AM   #25
Richard Cranium
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I guess the bottom line is "always" about the money. And there seems to be an understanding that perhaps the USPS "one-trick-pony" is good for cycling for bringing additional exposure to the Tour.

Some of you think that other teams have made the same effort for the GC in the Tour - I really doubt it. And while I think Lance could win while riding for just about any team, I can imagine a much more exciting Tour if his team would have finished 2 or 3 minutes off in the TTT.

Thanks for the comments.
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