August 11, 2007

Major Blow for US Cycling

It has long been wondered if US cycling would be able to survive the retirement of Lance Armstrong. Today we got our answer, and unfortunately it isn’t the answer I wanted. The Discovery Pro cycling team announced today that after this season the team will be disbanded (PaceLine release requires registration). The team that has won 8 Tours de France in the last 10 years and countless other races will cease to exist after this years season is over. The team led by perhaps the best director sportif, Johann Bruyneel, is going away. The team that was US Postal, and traces back to the Subaru-Montgomery Sports team, is going away. After shopping around for months since Discovery Channel decided to end it’s sponsorship, the team was unable to find a viable sponsor.

There are two reasons for this. The first is America’s continuing lack of enthusiasm for cycling. The majority of America seems to lack the attention span for Grand Tours and don’t care to dive into the strategy and poetic agony of cycling. The second reason is more insidious. I find it impossible to believe that doping allegations are not part of this. Europe is weathering this storm as well, but the strong history of cycling gives organizations like T-Mobile continuing sponsorship even after significant doping issues. Mind you, Discovery has not had an issue in this arena. But combining the lack of a superstar like Lance that everyone can get behind, and the worry of a doping scandal is too much to overcome it seems.

d3007ww0.jpg by Kevin Kallaugher, Economist, July 26, 2007

This is an unfortunate turn of events. In an attempt to see the silver lining, perhaps riders like George Hincapie will be able to move to other teams with more support for his Classics goals. I would expect that Bruyneel will find a new home. Or perhaps something else will rise out of the ashes of the most winning tour organization in the last decade.

Until then, thanks for all the great memories guys.

Tour de France Cycling

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