Sunday, September 16, 2007

Team Discovery closes shop

Most of what Americans know about cycling are due to Lance Armstrong and is intrepid Team U.S. Postal which later became known as Team Discovery. For eight years in a row, Team U.S. Postal/Discovery produced the winner of the Tour de France.

They were an American cycling team running with mostly American riders with American sponsors and with American equipment. They traveled to the heart of Europe and kicked American ass. They made us proud.

Earlier in the year, primary sponsor Discovery Channel announced that they would not be sponsoring a team in 2008. Cost etimates of sponsoring a competitive professional cycling team run upwards of $15 million per year (on the low side). Add to the high cost the extremely unstable environment caused by one doping scandal after another, and you get a team looking for a sponsor in a country where people don't care all that much about the sport.

Last Thursday, Discovery longest tenured rider, George Hincapie, won the individual title at this year's Tour of Missouri. Earlier in the year, junior Discovery rider, Alberto Contador won a drug-ruined Tour de France. With Hincapie's final win, the Tour is over for Team Discovery.

Tailwind Sports -- the management company that has operated the team since the late '90s is closing shop. It's gotten too expensive and sponsors are too hard to find. So our team, our American team, is closing shop. It's a sad footnote for what in any other sport would be be considered one of the greatest dynasties in American sport.

Hopefully another American team will find the dollars, find their Lance Armstrong and dollars, and go to Europe and again make us all feel a little prouder for ourselves.

Until then it will be hard to enjoy a sport where you have no team in the race.

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