An Open letter from Frankie Andreu
Looking back on the five years I was with the US Postal Service I realize that I had some of the best races of my life on and off the bike. I can remember the 1999 Tour like it was yesterday. All the newspapers said that it couldn't be done. All the other teams believed we would crack, and the French just did not know who Lance was. That was their disadvantage, because we knew who Lance was. The final day in Paris was monumental, not only in that Lance had won the Tour de France but that I was part of the winning team. Something that I never imagined would happen.
I also remember coming to tears after George Hincapie won the US PRO Championships in Philly. We had to ride on the front the entire race and the last three laps we didn't know what the outcome would be. A large group remained and as I rode as hard as I could with three other teammates, to keep the peloton together, I only hoped George would be able to have faster legs than the rest. I never did get to see the finish, I only saw everyone hugging George after he crossed the line. It was an incredibly long day with an incredible ending.
After I retired I was given the opportunity to return to the US Postal Service but this time as a director. I realized then that directing the team was in a way harder then racing. This was because as a rider I always knew what was happening and I knew I tried my utmost best to try and win the race. As a director I couldn't see what was happening half the time and I hated trying to figure out why we didn't win. As much as there was an adjustment period my riders made the job easier. There was more pressure to do well, lots of pressure to win, but I usually had some of the best riders in the race. I've always said that if you have great riders then great things can happen. For instance when George Hincapie won the San Francisco Grand Prix in 2001. I've been criticized for tactics in the 2002 race when George attacked thirty miles from the finish. When you have riders like Lance, Ekimov, McRae, and Clinger all in a group of ten right behind and I figured that was pretty good odds! In the end another team outgunned us - but I guess that's bike racing.
I also got the biggest kick out of driving the car and hearing my name yelled out as though I was still racing. Sometimes it felt like I was getting more cheering than the riders and for sure I was getting more cheers than when I rode. Maybe I just never heard all the noise. For all the noise that everyone has made over the years I thank you. I may not return to the Postal Service in 2003 but I will look to stay in cycling. I'm excited for the future and I believe I'm now in a position like I was in my first Tour. Ready to conquer all.