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Volume 24 No. 132
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          The U.S. Postal Service (USPS), one of the "most
     recognizable national symbols" in the world, believes that
     its sponsorship deal with the U.S. Cycling team competing in
     the Tour de France "makes a lot of sense," according to
     Laurence Zuckerman of the N.Y. TIMES.  However, Zuckerman
     writes that "[u]nfortunately for" the USPS, pro cycling is
     "just not that widely followed in the [U.S.], where most of
     its customers happen to be."  Interest in cycling "is
     growing in this country," but it is "still far from the
     national passion it is in Europe."  Zuckerman calls the
     USPS's $1M sponsorship deal "cheap even if relatively small
     numbers of Americans will notice."  This year, the USPS
     assigned a special team to use its cycling sponsorship to
     "drum up business," and companies that have signed new deals
     with USPS as a result include NationsBank and Nashbar.  The
     USPS "decided not to buy time" on ABC and ESPN's Tour de
     France telecasts and instead plans to spend the money to
     sponsor U.S. pro races.  But, Zuckerman notes that ESPN has
     still focused "a lot of its coverage on" the U.S. Postal
     team, as team member George Hincapie's "early success has
     helped" lift the event's ratings by one-tenth of a point, to
     around 400,000 homes (Laurence Zuckerman, N.Y. TIMES, 7/17).