June 22, 2004
USPS Tour team named; Peña out
US Postal team director Johan Bruyneel announced the USPS team that will be riding in support of Lance Armstrong's bid for a sixth consecutive Tour de France win today.
The only real surprise is the status of Victor Hugo Peña, who wore the yellow jersey briefly last year, who has been relegated to reserve status along with Benoit Joachim by the arrival of José Azevedo and Benjamin Noval.
"Not selecting Benoit and Victor was a difficult choice as both of them were ready," said Bruyneel. "I had to make sure we had a balanced team and I hope I made the right choice. I am confident I did, but it's hard, as they are very disappointed not to have made the team. Everybody wants to go to the Tour, but I have to stand by my decision."
The full lineup:
• Lance Armstrong (USA)
• George Hincapie (USA)
• Floyd Landis (USA)
• Viatcheslav Ekimov (Russia)
• Pavel Padrnos (Czech Republic)
• Jose Azevedo (Portugal)
• Manuel Beltran (Spain)
• Jose Luis Rubiera (Spain)
• Benjamin Noval (Spain)
"Basically, we have the same team as the other years," said Armstrong. "We have a very experienced team and more than anything else, we have a very committed team. They know what it takes to win the Tour and they want to do that again."
On the course itself, Armstrong said, "The last week looks really tough, the toughest we have ever done. It will be much better to have a stronger second half than a strong first half."
Ekimov (the last US Postal rider older than I am!) is starting his 14th Tour, riding every year since 1990 except for 1999.
Bruyneel said his last two slots were filled by Padrnos and Noval.
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