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Bontrager Wheelworks Pave the Way for USPS
Bontrager Wheelworks paved the way for Lance Armstrong’s two consecutive mountain stage wins in the Tour de France. Armstrong’s USPS teammates, Roberto Heras and Jose Luis Rubiera, pulled their team leader up the final two torturous climbs aboard their Bontrager Race X Lites and gave the three-time Tour winner a two-and-a-half minute lead in the overall standings.

The Bontrager Race X Lite is an outstanding all-around race wheelset that is extremely lightweight, yet strong enough to last the grand tours and sprint with the best. New for 2003, secondary machining on the rim has reduced the rotating weight of the wheelset even further, making the Race X Lite one of the lightest wheelsets available at 1490 grams. A 20-hole, 23mm semi-aero front rim provides excellent aerodynamics, while the 24-hole, 21mm rear rim with Offset Spoke Bed improves lateral rigidity and prolongs wheel life.

Race X Lites proved invaluable in yesterday’s 158 km stage from Pau to an uphill finish in La Mongie. USPS rode a tactically smart race throughout and stayed together until the final climb to the finish. One by one, members of the USPS squad pulled Armstrong up the category 1 climb towards La Mongie and dropped those unable to keep the frenetic pace. With five kilometers to go, climbing specialist Heras took over the pulling duties and proceeded to drive his X Lites at a pace that only two other riders could match. Heras pulled Armstrong until 200 meters before the finish when Armstrong swerved to the right of Heras and attacked to take the stage, the yellow jersey and command of the Tour. Heras’ effort was good enough for third, which moved him up to 14th in the overall GC standings.

Armstrong later commented, “I have to say honestly that I didn’t have the legs to attack today. It was Roberto who made the difference. He made the pace and all I had to do was follow."

Stage 12 was another one for the climbers, and another chance for the X Lites to show their worth. The stage would take the riders 198 km from Lannemezan to Plateau de Beille with a steep climb to the finish for the second straight day. The day unfolded much as the previous one had, with the USPS riding together at the head of the peloton ready to make their move. At the base of the last climb, a 16km "beyond category" monster, Heras and Rubiera led the USPS on the attack. The two plowed their way up the mountain, which allowed Armstrong to coast and put more time on the scattered peloton. With six kilometers to go, Rubiera was spent and Heras took over as lieutenant. Heras further increased the pace aboard his X Lites, and conserved Armstrong’s legs for an attack that was sure to follow. As the line drew near Armstrong attacked with his fresh legs and took the stage win while Heras followed his team leader to earn second for the day and 7th in the overall standing.

In 1980 Keith Bontrager started his custom bicycle design and manufacturing business in his in-laws’ garage. The operation grew from a one-man shop to a small factory until its purchase by Trek Bicycle Corporation in 1995. Bontrager Wheelworks and Components has earned the reputation as a manufacturer of lightweight, extremely durable parts.

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