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Last Updated: Saturday, 24 April, 2004, 02:57 GMT 03:57 UK
US Postal withdraw backing
Lance Armstrong competes in the Tour of Georgia
Armstrong is currently leading the Tour of Georgia
The US Postal Service is to withdraw its backing for Lance Armstrong's cycling team at the end of the year.

The organisation will continue to support riders, including the five-time Tour de France champion, this season.

"It's always tough news to hear when your title sponsor decides to pull out," Armstrong said. "I have great memories and feelings towards them.

"In 1998, they were the ones that stepped up and gave me a chance to race again when many other teams wouldn't."

Armstrong added: "Clearly without them, there wouldn't be one Tour (de France) victory.

"Now, this is an interesting time to stop. I think the team is better than ever. I think we can continue to compete at the top level and win Tours and win big races.

Europeans may love Lance but that admiration did not translate into more revenue for the USPS
Citizens Against Government Waste
"But we are confident that we will find somebody else (as a sponsor). There has already been an effort put in place to find a new title sponsor."

Since 1996, the postal service had been the title sponsor of the USPS Pro-Cycling Team owned and managed by Tailwind Sports.

The team has not only helped Armstrong win five back-to-back Tour de France titles but been influential in re-energising cycling in the United States.

But the government agency has come in for criticism for spending money on the sponsorship, particularly in light of three postal rate increases in 2000 and 2001.

"Any sensible private sector company would have yanked the sponsorship and refocused its resources on its core mission," Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste said in a statement on Friday.

"Europeans may love Lance Armstrong, but that admiration did not translate into more revenue for the USPS."

Armstrong is currently leading overall after five stages of the six-day, seven stage Tour of Georgia.

Armstrong in retirement hint
28 Feb 04  |  Cycling

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