Armstrong launches new ProTour team
By Tim Maloney, European Editor in Silver Spring, Maryland
As Washington DC prepares with ruffles and flourishes for President George Bush's second inauguration in a few weeks time, his fellow Texan Lance Armstrong was in town to inaugurate his new team for the final phase of his cycling career, the $15 million Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. Armstrong and his alter-ego, team sports director Johan Bruyneel, have partnered with title sponsor Discovery Communications to assemble a ProTour squad that should be one of the most competitive teams around. On the morning of Monday, January 10, Armstrong and 26 others were presented at the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland just a stone's throw from Discovery Communications HQ.
Discovery CEO Judy McHale explained that, "2005 is the twentieth anniversary of the Discovery Channel so this is a great way to kick off the year for us. We're very happy to be associated with Lance Armstrong...he's an inspiration to many with his spirit and a role model for people around the world."
McHale's remarks were followed by Bill Stapleton of Capital Sports & Entertainment, the team's co-owner, who said that, "We've done a lot in the last eight months since we first met with Judy and Billy Campbell (Discovery President). Right away, we both realized that Discovery and our team were both committed to quality. So it all fits together and we have a real partner in Discovery and what we think is the greatest franchise in pro sports."
Team sports manager Johan Bruyneel, introduced as the team mastermind, emphasised the global nature of the new Discovery Channel Pro Cycling squad, saying that, "With riders from 14 countries, this team is the most internationally diverse in the sport," a theme that six-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong echoed in his comments during the team presentation. "We have a new approach with the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team. It's a global team with many diverse riders. But we have a special camaraderie."
When commenting on the new Discovery team jersey, Armstrong explained that a lot of thought went into the design, joking that, "My computer got loaded down with these huge (graphics) files...but I think my son Luke will like the design," referring to the sharkskin motif on the new team strip. "When Discovery agreed that we could put the yellow (Livestrong) band on the (left) sleeve, we were humbled. We're up to 28 or 30 million bands now." Team spokesman Dan Osipow explained that $1 from the sale of every Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team jersey will go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
After the presentation in Silver Spring, the Discovery team riders headed down to Capital Hill for a meet and greet with congressmen at the 2005 Discovery Healthy Living Congressional Fair, with the Lance Armstrong Foundation featured, along with the Discovery Health Channel's National Body Challenge. Once the formalities were over, the team riders jumped on a flight to Los Angeles, heading to Solvang, CA. for a 10 day training camp. While strong winter storms have recently been battering the American West Coast, the weather forecast is good, with sunny skies and temperatures in the low 20's. Talking about the upcoming training camp, Armstrong said that "You know, some guys go fishin', but we go to training camp. I love to get together with the guys and suffer."