US Postal - Berry Floor Press Release
American Floyd Landis is the eighth and final name of the US Postal-Berryfloor teammates that will help Lance Armstrong in his attempt to make history with a fifth straight Tour title. Joining Armstrong on the start line in Paris on Saturday will be Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov, Spaniards Roberto Heras, Manuel Beltran and Jose Luis Rubiera, Americans George Hincapie and Floyd Landis, Pavel Padrnos of the Czech Republic and Colombian Victor Hugo Pena. Beltran, a mid-season addition to the team, replaces Luxembourger Benoit Joachim from last year's Tour
Armstrong is attempting to become just the fifth rider in history to win five Tours and the second to win five straight. Spaniard Miguel Indurain was the last rider to win five Tours de France. Frenchman Bernard Hinault, Belgian Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil of France round out the list of five-time winners.
"In my opinion, he's at least as strong as last year," said the team's director sportif, Johan Bruyneel of Armstrong. "His last race, the Dauphine Libere (June 8-15), was a confirmation that he's on track. He did a strong time trial and defended in the mountains. This is more or less the same team as last year, except for Beltran replacing Benoit. It's a real shame for Benoit because he's been displaying great condition now and certainly deserved his place on the team. The choice between him and Floyd was very difficult, but I'm confident that this year's team is our strongest possible line up."
Both Landis and Hincapie overcame injury and illness to make the Tour de France roster. Landis broke his hip in a January training ride fall near his home in southern California while Hincapie suffered from a severe viral and respiratory infection that took him out of many early season events, including the Classic and World Cup races. Landis returned to racing in April while Hincapie rejoined the team in mid-May.
“After missing the spring due to illness, George has come back very strong and showed us at The Tour of Catalunya (June 16-22) that we can count on him," said Bruyneel. "Floyd is in the same situation as George. He was out for the spring with his hip fracture, worked extremely hard and proved at the Dauphine that his form is still improving."
Bruyneel added that Heras is "back on the same level as last year" and is ready for the Tour following a second place finish at Catalunya. Beltran and Rubiera will join Heras and assist Armstrong in the mountains, while Ekimov, Padrnos and Pena "have the experience and proved at the Dauphine that they are ready for the job."
2003 Tour de France roster
Lance Armstrong (USA)
Manuel Beltran (ESP)
Viatcheslav Ekimov (RUS)
Roberto Heras (ESP)
George Hincapie (USA)
Floyd Landis (USA)
Pavel Padrnos (CZE)
Victor Hugo Peña (COL)
Jose Luis Rubiera (ESP)