Six USA Cycling Program Alumni to Compete in the 2009 Tour de France.
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- USA Cycling, the national governing body for the sport of cycling in the United States, is proud to announce that six graduates of its National Development Team programs will compete in the 96th Tour de France.
These six Americans, several of whom are considered yellow jersey contenders, have participated in USA Cycling's National Development Team programs, including:
* Lance Armstrong (Austin, Texas/Astana), 1989-1992
* George Hincapie (Greenville, S.C./Columbia Highroad), 1989-1992
* Christian Vande Velde (Lemont, Ill./Garmin-Slipstream), 1995-1997
* David Zabriskie (Salt Lake City, Utah/Garmin-Slipstream), 1999-2000
* Danny Pate (Colorado Springs, Colo./Garmin-Slipstream), 1999 and 2001
* Tyler Farrar (Wenatchee, Wash./Garmin-Slipstream), 2001-2005
Armstrong, who holds a record seven Tour de France wins, was part of USA Cycling's National Development Team sent to Europe to train in the late eighties. George Hincapie, who was Armstrong's teammate for all seven Tour wins, was also in that group and has competed in more editions of the Tour de France than any other American. He returns this year for the 14th time.
Joining Armstrong and Hincapie as a USA Cycling National Development Team graduate that will toe the line in France is Christian Vande Velde. The former resident athlete of the Olympic Training Center finished fourth overall in the 2008 Tour.
Because cycling is historically a Eurocentric sport, exposure to the European peloton is crucial to up-and-coming American riders because it gives them the experience needed to compete in world-class events like the Tour de France. In 1999, USA Cycling implemented its U23 National Development Team program and European Residence Center in Izegem, Belgium, an initiative that has played a key role in the tremendous influx of American talent into the European peloton over the last decade. With the ultimate goal of raising the level of the American peloton, the USA Cycling National Development program looks to feed a consistent pipeline of American talent to the highest levels of the sport for decades to come.
Dave Zabriskie, one of the first graduates of USA Cycling's European Residence program, is a Tour de France stage winner and the only American to have won a stage in each of cycling's three grand tours. He'll be joined in this year's edition by Armstrong, Hincapie, Vande Velde, and two other USA Cycling program alumni - Tyler Farrar and Danny Pate.
"Through our development programs, we physically and mentally prepare American athletes to compete in the ultimate cycling event," said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. "The USA Cycling alumni racing in this year's Tour de France represent some of the world's best riders, the potential of our programs and the future of this sport."
For additional information on USA Cycling and American athletes in the Tour de France, please visit www.usacycling.org/media.
About USA Cycling
Recognized by the United States Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling is the official governing body for all disciplines of competitive cycling in the United States, including road, track, mountain bike, BMX and cyclo-cross. As a membership-based organization, USA Cycling consists of more than 64,000 licensees including 1,500 coaches, 4,000 student-athletes, 2,200 officials, 1,800 clubs and teams, 350 professional cyclists, 200 certified mechanics and 34 local associations. The national governing body sanctions 2,500 competitive and non-competitive events throughout the U.S. each year and is responsible for the identification, development, and support of American cyclists through various initiatives and programs. Additionally, USA Cycling conducts national championship events for all categories of amateur and professional cycling. To learn more about USA Cycling, visit www.usacycling.org.