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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 June, 2003, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
US Postal
TEAM PROFILE
Lance Armstrong
Country: US
Team manager: Johan Bruyneel
Team leader:
Key lieutenant:
Best Tours: Winner - Lance Armstrong (1999-2002)
The Tour de France will once again be the event for the US Postal team and defending champion Lance Armstrong in particular.

The four-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-equalling fifth successive Tour win.

Armstrong's hopes will rest heavily on his trusted lieutenants, none more so than Spaniard Roberto Heras, who was in inspired form throughout the event.

Heras rode a stunning race, coaxing Armstrong up some of the tougher climbs and eventually slipped back to ninth overall because of illness.

The Spaniard has played his role of servant superbly and he and team boss Johan Bruyneel have made it clear that his number one season aim again is assisting Armstrong in Le Tour.

There are surely few who could match him in the mountains such was the ease with which he cruised up the steep slopes in France.

Two likely to be on his and Armstrong's side doing just that are Victor Hugo Pena and Jose Luis Rubiera.

US Postal have had their setbacks in recent seasons but they only seem to make the team grow stronger as a unit.

Tyler Hamilton was Armstrong's chief lieutenant in his first Tour victory back in 1999 but his move to CSC-Tiscali seemed a major blow.

Heras, though, has exceeded Hamilton in that role.

US Postal certainly look to have the strength in depth to win again in 2003.

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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