Armstrong is already a one-man industry but Jim Andrews of IEG in Chicago, which publishes IEG Sponsorship Report, believes he could be an even bigger earner when he retires. And it's not just the likes of Coke and Bristol-Myers Squibb that would latch on to Lance, the bike trade would also benefit. A signature line of bikes and accessories would be an obvious move for Trek and there's potential for other spin-off's too.

Whether or not he gets the fifth Maillot Jeune, Lance Armstrong is on to a winner

In his new book, available in October – see link below for a peek at the first chapter, Armstrong said:

"I shot half a dozen commercials, posed for magazine ads and the Wheaties box. I earned the nickname “Lance Incorporated” and now I was a business entity instead of just a person. It was estimated that the ’99 victory generated $50 million in global media exposure for the United States Postal Service cycling team. Our budget grew, and now we were a $6 million year-round enterprise with dozens of support staff, mechanics, cooks, and accountants."

Yet his marketability has yet to reach its full potential, believes IEG’s Jim Andrews:

"Even if he wins or loses and says, ‘That’s it,’ he still has an incredible story and is potentially even more popular in retirement than as an active athlete."

IEG is a leading authority on the benefits to business of sponsorship deals.

Trek clearly already benefits bigtime, and it’s a two-way street. In a 2001 interview, John Burke, CEO of Trek, told BikeBiz:

“We [owe a lot to Lance]. He’s an equipment nut and he benefits from the relationship too. If you go to the Tour, Lance is the best rider but the Postal team is on the best equipment too. That’s not just a proud sponsor talking. I’m always amazed at the lack of technology at the Tour."

Armstrong is riding on a new OCLV bike this year, the Madone 5.9.

For the last four Tours, Armstrong has ridden a Trek 5900. The Madone 5.9 is based on the same geometry as the 5900 but is lighter and more streamlined. It was named after the challenging Col de la Madone.

The frame, at 1439 grams, is 50 grams lighter than the 5900. According to Trek, testing at the Texas A&M Aeronautics Lab showed that the Madone 5.9 takes a full minute off a rider’s time on a 200km stage compared to the 5900.

Trek dealers get their hands on Madone 5.9 frames and bikes in September.

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