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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 14:28 GMT 15:28 UK
US Postal
TEAM PROFILE
Lance Armstrong
Country: US
Team manager: Johan Bruyneel
Team leader:
Best Tours: Winner - Lance Armstrong (1999-2003)
The Tour de France will once again be the event for the US Postal team and Lance Armstrong in particular.

The five-time Tour de France winner has hogged the headlines and the total support of his team-mates on the road.

And the Texan will be the sole focus of his team's attentions as he bids for a record sixth successive Tour win.

Armstrong's hopes rest heavily on his trusted lieutenants, none more so than Portuguese rider Jose Azevedo who has replaced countryman Roberto Heras.

Heras' absence will leave a big hole for the team to fill but even when Heras struggled last year, there were plenty of other US Postal riders to pick up the pieces.

Manuel Beltran and Chechu Rubiera were the strongest climbers in the team and Azevedo's arrival should support that heady mix.

Armstrong hardly had things his own way 12 months ago and knows he faces arguably his toughest Tour test ever.

The political build-up at his team has hardly helped matters, US Postal announcing earlier this season they are to withdraw their sponsorship at the end of the season.

US Postal certainly look to have the strength in depth to win again in 2004.

But it remains to be seen whether the team has expended all its energy on helping Armstrong four times before.

US Postal continue to carry the sole American hopes, following the high standard set by 7-Eleven and later Motorola.





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