Tailwind Sports has announced the end of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team today, confirming rumours that cropped up when the team failed to announce a new sponsor after winning the Tour de France. The team was given notice that the Discovery Channel would not renew its sponsorship back in February, leading to a long and intensive search for a replacement sponsor.
That the team which won eight Tours can not find a sponsor bodes poorly for the sport in general. "Tailwind has had an amazing ten years of success with U.S. Postal and more recently Discovery Channel as its title sponsor. This is arguably the most successful sports franchise in the history of sport," stated Stapleton. "This was a difficult decision, not made any easier by our recent Tour de France success."
As good as the decade of dominance by the Celtics in the '60's? I'm not quite sure, but he did say "arguably".
The dissolution of the Discovery Channel team leaves one ProTour license up for grabs, leading to speculation that Team Slipstream could be the next American ProTour team. Manager Jonathan Vaughters told Cyclingnews that he wasn't sure his team would be able to take on three Grand Tours. "The ProTour requires that teams race the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta - and that's a huge undertaking," said Vaughters. His team has already signed ProTour riders David Zabriskie, David Millar, Christian Vande Velde, Magnus Backstedt, Julian Dean and Christophe Laurent.
You know Vaughters is gunning for this ProTour slot. Should they decide to give it to a US based team it sounds like he should have a chance with the names he has signed for next season. It would seem that Slipstream/Chipotle is better prepared for this and other US teams, although it may not be prepared for a full European schedule.