Mark Gorski remembers what it was like when he won a gold medal for the United States in cycling at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
He thought that was the end of the line. It turns out he wasn’t quite right. The Tour de France starts this weekend, and the juices are flowing again.
“There was a kind of special feeling about being in L.A.,” said Gorski, who is bringing the U.S. Postal Service team to cycling’s showcase race. “I didn’t think I could recapture it until coming here on the tour.”
Gorski won the sprint gold medal on the track in Los Angeles. Now he is general manager and director of the team that will be only the second American-based squad to participate in the Tour de France.
The world’s top 16 teams were selected in January to compete in the annual event. Six remaining teams were given wild-card invitations based on their performances of this season.
The U.S. Postal Service team has done well, winning 27 races this year, to earn a wild card. Motorola, formerly the 7-Eleven team, was on the tour for almost a decade but lost its sponsorship last year.
The race begins Saturday with the opening time trial, which is 5 miles around Rouen, northwest of Paris.
After that it is three weeks in a counterclockwise loop before ending on the Champs Elysees in Paris, completing 21 stages totaling 2,405 miles.
Although they are new to the Tour, Gorski is looking for results for the team.
“It’s a huge challenge for us. It’s very exciting for us,” Gorski said. “We’ve got a great morale and enthusiasm on this team.
“We are definitely looking for a stage win, that’s a go,” he said. “We are a new entity but we have a lot of riders with a lot of experience. We are not neophytes.”
He said that Russian Vyacheslav Yekimov of Russia is capable of winning a time trial or an individual stage. He won a number of world titles on the track for the former Soviet Union.
Jean-Cyril Robin of France and Adriano Baffi of Italy are also seasoned riders.
Gorski also said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Robin does well in the overall standings. Robin finished 22nd in the 1995 Tour de France and was ninth at the 1996 Tour of Italy and also ended up in the top 10 of two other multi-stage races.
The three Americans on the team are George Hincapie of Charlotte, N.C., Marty Jemison of Salt Lake City and Tyler Hamilton of Marblehead, Mass.
Hincapie was the winner of the U.S. championships for about 90 minutes. His title was taken away when officials ruled that he had been illegally paced back to the pack by his team’s car after changing a flat tire.
The other three members of the team are Dariusz Baranowski of Poland, Pascal Deame of France and Peter Meinert-Nielsen of Denmark.
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