Lance Armstrong put in a stellar performance today. He made up more than a minute on Jan Ulrich within 15 km, and placed second on the stage, 2″ behind David Zabriskie, but more importantly, 51″ ahead of his nearest rival. On OLN, Phil, Paul and Bob were considering the possibility that Lance had pulled up some toward the end to allow CSC to bear the burden of defending the yellow jersey.
The amazing news for the day was that 4 of the top 6, and 6 of the top 14, riders were American: David Zabriskie (1), Lance Armstrong (2), George Hincapie (4), Floyd Landis (6), Bobby Julich (11), and Levi Leipheimer (14).
What do these 6 riders have in common besides being American?
They all have experience as part of the Tailwind Sports organization. Tailwind Sports is the management team behind the current Discovery Channel Cycling Team, and the previous US Postal Cycling Team. Tailwind Sports actually owns the team, the names that you read are the names of the sponsors.
I would be interested to know all of the details of the ins and outs of the relationship between Lance Armstrong and Tailwind sports. It seems to me that they have so many aspects of their personalities in common. In any case, Lance is certainly the central athlete of the organization. All of the highly placed American riders in today’s first stage of the Tour de France have ridden on teams owned by Tailwind Sports and captained by Lance Armstrong.
I would guess that all of these American riders were influenced by the successes of Greg Lemond in the Tour in late eighties and 1990. Greg moved cycling into the vision of America and all of these riders were teenagers when when Greg was winning his victories.
What Tailwind Sports has done is to gather up the energy that was generated by Greg’s wins and channel it into an extremely successful philosophy of how to build a cycling team for the grand tours. This is an accomplishment to be proud of.
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