US Postal Announces Tour de France Team
Armstrong has selected the eight team members who will help him claim his sixth Tour win.
In his effort to win a record sixth Tour de France, Lance Armstrong will turn to six teammates that helped him win his fifth consecutive Tour last summer and two newcomers to the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, including one that has not yet raced in cycling's grandest event.
Tailwind Sports today announced the eight teammates that will join Armstrong on the start line of the 91st Tour de France , which begins Saturday, July 3, 2004, in Liege, Belgium - Americans George Hincapie and Floyd Landis , Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov , Pavel Padrnos of the Czech Republic, Jose Azevedo of Portugal and Spaniards Manuel Beltran , Jose Luis Rubiera and Benjamin Noval . Both Azevedo and Noval are first-year team members. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
The team's two reserve riders are Luxembourger Benoit Joachim and Victor Hugo Pena of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
"Basically, we have the same team as the other years," said Armstrong. "We have a very experienced team and more than anything else, we have a very committed team. They know what it takes to win the Tour and they want to do that again."
On the course itself, Armstrong said, "The last week looks really tough, the toughest we have ever done. It will be much better to have a stronger second half than a strong first half."
Armstrong and four other cyclists - Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil - have all won five Tours de France. Three of them - Indurain, Hinault and Anquetil - made one attempt at a sixth Tour win while Merckx made two.
USPS team sports manager Johan Bruyneel is confident the eight teammates will do what they can to help lead Armstrong, set to start his 10th career Tour, to a record-breaking sixth win.
"We will have a very strong team in the mountains, stronger than last year," said Bruyneel. "Azevedo is riding very strong and even in the
"As for Chechu (Rubiera), of course, we know what he is worth every year in the Tour. I trust he will be in good shape when the mountains arrive. Triki (Beltran) the same - we all saw what he was able to do last year. I hope he will be on the same level (this year) and even if he will be a little less, he will still be a good supporter in the mountains. Where we will improve is with Floyd. Don't forget he came back last year from his hip fracture just a few months before the Tour and didn't really play a role in the mountains. This year, he will. That will give us four support riders for Lance in the