Familiar Faces to Lead US Postal Team in 2003
Led by the teams that helped guide Lance Armstrong to his fourth Tour de France victory and Roberto Heras to his second place finish at the Tour of Spain, US Postal Service today announced the 20-rider roster that will compete for the team in 2003.
Armstrong and Heras lead an experienced roster in which 17 of the 20 riders possess Grand Tour experience.
"We are excited to begin the eighth year of our program with the U.S. Postal Service as our title sponsor," said Mark Gorski, CEO of Tailwind Sports. "In addition, we are very pleased about the development of the team's new relationship with Berry Floor as its presenting sponsor."
Along with Armstrong and Heras, back for '03 from last year's Tour de France squad are Viatcheslav Ekimov, George Hincapie, Benoit Joachim, Floyd Landis, Pavel Padrnos, Victor Hugo Pena and Jose Luis Rubiera. From the Tour of Spain group, returning along with Heras, Pena and Rubiera are Michael Barry, Antonio Cruz, Steffen Kjaergaard, Christian Vande Velde, Matt White and Dave Zabriskie.
"For the first time in a long time, we have been able to retain everyone from the Tour de France team and almost everyone from the team in general," said Armstrong. "I think we have started to really hit our stride in terms of teamwork, communication and camaraderie. I'm looking forward to 2003 with these guys."
Rounding out the roster are Kenny Labbe and Robbie Ventura, along with newcomers Damon Kluck, Guennadi Mikhailov and Max van Heeswijk.
"I'm really excited to begin the 2003 season, my fifth year with the team," said Johan Bruyneel, the team's director sportif. "With continued great support from our title sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service, and with the addition of Berry Floor as our team's presenting sponsor, we enter this season stronger than ever. Competitively, we were able to maintain almost the entire 2002 team, which I felt was very important following our most successful season. The fact we can go on basically with the same group of riders and staff, in which our three new riders really fit very well, is a good and comfortable feeling.
"We all know each other, have the necessary experience and know what it takes to win," added Bruyneel. "That is also why we are planning to do more or less the same racing schedule as last year with the same goals - the spring Classics, the U.S. Pro Championship, the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain."
With victories in events such as the Tour de France, Dauphine Libere, Tour of Catalunya, Midi Libre and the Tour of Murcia, and with Heras' second place finish at the Tour of Spain, along with other top performances at the U.S. Pro Championship, San Francisco Grand Prix and five top-five finishes in World Cup events, Bruyneel said the team will try to achieve the same type of results in 2003.
2003 U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team
Lance ARMSTRONG (USA)
Michael BARRY (CAN)
Antonio CRUZ (USA)
Viatcheslav EKIMOV (RUS)
Roberto HERAS (ESP)
George HINCAPIE (USA)
Benoit JOACHIM (LUX)
Steffen KJAERGAARD (NOR)
Damon KLUCK (USA)
Kenny LABBE (USA)
Floyd LANDIS (USA)
Guennadi MIKHAILOV (RUS)
Pavel PADRNOS (CZE)
Victor Hugo PENA (COL)
Jose Luis RUBIERA (ESP)
Christian VANDE VELDE (USA)
Max VAN HEESWIJK (NED)
Robbie VENTURA (USA)
Matthew WHITE (AUS)
Dave ZABRISKIE (USA)