Today will mark the end of one of the greatest dynasties in the history of sports. No, I am not talking about the Yankees being sold or Cowboys closing up shop . . . but I am referring to the disbandment of one the most successful Pro-Cycling teams in history – U.S. Postal/Discovery Channel team.
Okay, you are wondering who are these guys and what am I talking about. Let me see if I can help jog your memory. You know that guy who urges everyone to wear those yellow bracelets in support of the fight against cancer – Lance Armstrong. Well he is the seven-time Tour de France winner who rode for U.S. Postal/Discovery Channel team and is now part owner.
This team also just won the most recent Tour de France in both the team and individual categories while also placing team members in 3rd place and 10th place. Not too shabby. This team has won more Tour de France titles than any other team in history. Along with these accomplishments, they are also one, if not the only one, in last few years to be the only U.S.-sponsored team to compete in the grand tours (Tour de France, Giro — Tour of Italy, Vuelta — Tour of Spain).
Not only has the team brought cycling to the fore front in main stream America with the help of Armstrong’s accomplishments, but it helped make all of us who wear the yellow bracelets soldiers in war against cancer. The U.S. Postal/Discovery Channel team was more than just an origination in a fringe sport, but a vehicle that people in our country could rally around when competing against they world during trying times. The riders on this team were our ambassadors on two wheels.
Unfortunately, in a time when doping scandals plague the sport, cycling suffers from negative publicity, and corporations are downsizing, the only U.S. cycling team in the Tour de France has lost its main sponsor this year — Discovery Channel who opted not to renew their sponsorship. For most of the year Lance Armstrong and Team Director Johan Bruyneel have been searching globally for another sponsor for the team to supplement the annual 14 million dollar budget, without any luck.
Since no one is willing to sign on, the team has no choice but to disband after the 2007 cycling season, bring to an end to one of the most successful runs in sports.
“Don’t cry Argentina,” this news is not the end of U.S. cycling, but another chapter in the story that started in 1981 with the creation of the 7-eleven team that brought us Bob Roll. Another US sponsor cycling team – Team Slipstream — is building a team to compete in the grand tours and propel U.S. Cycling to the next level in its dominance of the Tour de France.