AUSTIN, United states (AFP) — Tailwind Sports, owner and operator of the Discovery Channel team, announced Friday that they will cease operations at the end of the 2007 cycling season.
One of the most successful teams in the sport, Discovery and its predecessor, the US Postal Service Team, won eight of the last nine Tour de France races - seven consecutive from 1999-2005 with Lance Armstrong - and this year with Alberto Contador of Spain.
But Tailwind has been unable to sign a title sponsor for the 2008 season.
"This was a difficult decision, not made any easier by our recent Tour de France success," team General Manager Bill Stapleton said.
"We were in talks with a number of companies about the opportunity and were confident a new sponsor was imminent. We have chosen, however, to end those discussions."
He added: "Tailwind has had an amazing ten years of success with US Postal and more recently Discovery Channel as its title sponsor. This is arguably the most successful sports franchise in the history of sport."
Team co-owner Armstrong added: "I don't think you have seen the last of this organization in the sport but clearly things need to improve on many levels, with a more unified front, before you would see us venture back into cycling."
The Discovery Channel team will continue to race its full calendar of Pro Tour races including the final grand tour of the season, the Tour of Spain.
Team sporting director Johan Bruyneel, meanwhile, confirmed he would be retiring from professional cycling at the end of the season.
"I've achieved everything that I could in the sport. I've always said that I wanted to stop on top and I think it's the right time," added Bruyneel, 43, who directed the team to eight of its nine Tour de France wins.
Contador, meanwhile, heard the news after he made a statement in Madrid on Friday denying that he had ever used performance enhancing drugs in his career.
"It was a surprise," sources close to the Spanish cyclist told AFP.
The 24-year-old rider hit out a recent doping suspicions against him after he was told this week he is not welcome to participate at the Pro-Tour's Cyclassics event in Hamburg on August 19 after organisers said he had been named in connection with the Operation Puerto blood-doping scandal.
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