Nine for nine again for U.S. Postal Service team
Posted: Tuesday September 22, 1998 04:17 PM
PARIS (CNN/SI) -- The jokes back home in the United States about the postal delivery service certainly don't apply to the US Postal cycling team whose entire team finished the 1998 Tour de France.
After an event that started three weeks and nearly 3,850 kilometers (2,400) ago, the U.S.-based team delivered all nine of its team members to the finish line in Paris.
Of the 21 teams that took part in the 1998 tour, only the German-based Telekom team could match US Postal's feat of nine for nine.
The Telekom team includes two previous Tour de France champions, Jan Ullrich (1997) and Bjarne Riis (1996).
Mark Gorski, the U.S. Postal team director and 1984 Olympic sprint cycling gold medallist, knows what it took for the riders of the only American team in the race to finish like it did.
"We have a great spirit on our team. A spirit of 'Let's get it done. We're all in this together'", Gorski said. "And six out of our nine have had a top five finish in this race."
George Hincapie, the American champion from Charlotte, North Carolina, had another top four finish on the 21st stage Sunday. He was once within two seconds of the overall lead and ended up 53rd.
"I feel bad for him not taking the yellow jersey," Gorski said. "He brought the Tour de France back to America that first week in a way that it meant a lot to the United States, the U.S. Postal Service and him personally."
Tyler Hamilton of Brookline, Massachusetts ended up 51st but had a surprising second in the first time trial.
"Tyler was to me the revelation. To finish second in the time trial of 58K to Jan Ullrich by a minute was phenomenal," Gorski said.
Frankie Andreu of Dearborn, Michigan, finished just 58th but it was the seventh consecutive time that Andreu had started and finished the Tour.
"Frankie is the guy that keeps the staff and the team directors and all the other riders on their toes," Gorski said. "He has been around so long that he knows exactly what we have to do."
Marty Jemison of Park City, Utah was 59th. "He is part of the glue that keeps the team together," Gorski said.
Two of the foreign riders placed in the top 15 of the overall standings, both less than 20 minutes behind champion Marco Pantani.
Jean-Cyril Robin of France was sixth and Dariusz Baranowski of Poland was 12th, "I know that J.C. is so proud of his performance in the race. Never had a individual finish above ninth but sixth overall," said Gorski. "That speaks volumes of his consistency day in and day out."
Also Viatcheslav Ekimov of Russia was 25th; Pascal Derame of France ended up 84th but came close to winning the 19th stage, ending up fourth.Peter Meinert-Nielsen of Denmark came in 45th to complete the nine-for-nine finish.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.