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ARMSTRONG WINS USOC SPORTSMAN
OF THE YEAR
U.S. POSTAL SERVICE SECOND IN USOC TEAM OF THE YEAR VOTING
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Dec. 21, 1999) - Lance Armstrong (Austin, Texas) was named the recipient of the 1999 United States Olympic Committee SportsMan of the Year, it was announced Tuesday.
The awards are presented annually by the USOC to the most outstanding male, female and team from America's Olympic movement.
Armstrong became just the second U.S. cyclist to ever win the Tour de France, as he posted four stage win victories en route to the fastest winning time in the history of this prestigious cycling event. Greg LeMond won the Tour de France three times (1986, 1989-90). Armstrong finished the season ranked seventh in the world in an abbreviated competition schedule. Following the 1996 Olympics, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer and many thought his cycling career was over. However, he recovered to reestablish himself during the 19997 campaign with fourth-place finishes at the Tour of Spain and the World Road Cycling Championships (road race, individual time trial).
In addition, the two-time Olympian (1992, 1996) posted two top-six finishes at the National Off-Road Bicycle Association (NORBA) National Championship Series (mountain biking) in August less than one month after the Tour de France triumph. He finished second in the USOC SportsMan of the Year voting in 1998, after placing sixth in 1993. Overall, Armstrong has been nominated for USOC SportsMan of the Year four times (1991, 1993, 1998 and 1999).
1999 USOC National Coach of the Year Chris Carmichael (Colorado Springs, Colo.) has served as Armstrong's coach for the past decade.
"This has been an memorable year for me, and winning the USOC SportsMan of the Year award is one of the top honors I have received," said Armstrong. "Winning the Tour de France was a lifelong dream. I am very proud and honored to be part of the U.S. Postal Service team, which finished second in the USOC Team of the Year voting. We had some outstanding performances in 1999, and I am very excited about the upcoming year.
"The Olympics are the pinnacle of many athletes careers, and I have been fortunate to compete in two previous Olympic Games, and look forward to riding in Sydney in 2000. My focus now is on the preparing for the Tour de France, my family and the Lance Armstrong Foundation."
Cyclist/speedskaters Sheila Young Ochowicz (1981), Beth and Eric Heiden (1980) are past recipients of the annual USOC award.
The U.S. Postal Service squad finished second, behind the U.S. Women's World Cup Soccer team, in the USOC voting. In July, USPS became the first U.S. team to support the winner in the Tour de France. George Hincapie (Charlotte, N.C.), Tyler Hamilton (Boulder, Colo.), Kevin Livingston (Austin, Texas), Christian Vande Velde (Boulder, Colo.), Frankie Andreu (Dearborn, Mich.), Dylan Casey (Mountain View, Calif.), Jonathan Vaughters (Boulder, Colo.) and Marty Jemison (Salt Lake City, Utah) played key roles through the 1999 campaign.
Hincapie won the First Union Classic, placed fourth at Paris-Roubaix and recorded four top-10 World Cup finishes. He finished the year ranked 10th in the World Cup rankings. Hamilton won the Tour of Denmark and placed 13th at the Tour de France. Finishing his third consecutive Tour de France, Livingston placed 38th at this year's Tour, while Vande Velde earned third at the Three Days of Dunkirk and fourth at the Circuit de la Sarthe, in addition to winning the Redlands (Calif.) Bicycle Classic. Andreu rode in his eighth consecutive Tour de France in 1999, and posted several top-25 international finishes, and Casey placed third at the Tour of Holland, won a gold medal at the '99 Pan American Games and placed sixth at the USPRO Invitational. Vaughters earned victories at the Route de Sud (France) and the Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger Classic. Jemison was the top U.S. rider at the First Union USPRO Championships (fifth) and Paris-Nice (28th).
"Last year was an outstanding season for the U.S. Postal Service team, highlighted by Lance's victory at the Tour de France," said USPS team general manager Mark Gorski, who also was a gold medalist at the 1984 Olympic Games. "We finished the season ranked number 13 in the world, with Armstrong ranked number seven in the individual ratings. For 2000, the team has set high goals including a strong showing in the spring classics, particularly for (1996 Olympian) George Hincapie, and a defense of the yellow jersey by Armstrong at the Tour."
Alison Dunlap (Colorado Springs, Colo.) was USA Cycling's nominee for the USOC SportsWoman of the Year. Swimmer Jenny Thompson won the SportsWoman of the Year award.
The other finalists in the USOC SportsMan of the Year were tennis player Andre Agassi and track athlete Maurice Greene. Michelle Akers (Soccer) and Serena Williams (tennis) were the other finalists in the SportsWoman of the Year voting.
The USOC SportsMan and SportsWoman of the Year awards have been presented annually to the top overall male and female athlete from within the U.S. Olympic movement since 1974. In 1996, a team category was added to the USOC awards program. Voters include the USOC's Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Athletes' Advisory Council and members of the national media. Winners are selected from nominations provided by the U.S. National Governing Bodies for Olympic and Pan American sports, as well as the affiliated and disabled sports organizations.
The VISA/USA Cycling Athletes of the Year will be announced in early 2000. Overall, 20 awards will be presented including the top performers in the disciplines of road, track, mountain biking, cyclo-cross and BMX racing.