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7 time Tour De France winner and the world's greatest cyclist, Lance Armstrong was born Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18, 1971. He is an American professional road racing cyclist for UCI ProTeam Team Astana. He won the Tour de France a record-breaking seven consecutive years, from 1999 to 2005. He is the only individual to win seven times, having broken the previous record of five wins, shared by Miguel Indurain (consecutive) and Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil. He has survived testicular cancer, a germ cell tumor that metastasized to his brain and lungs, in 1996. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery and extensive chemotherapy, and his prognosis was originally poor.
Armstrong was born in Plano, Texas on September 18, 1971. He began his sporting career as a triathlete competing and winning in adult competitions from the age of 12. In the 1987–1988 Tri-Fed/Texas ("Tri-Fed" was the former name of USA Triathlon), Armstrong was the number one ranked triathlete in the 19 & under age group; second place was Chann McRae, who later became a US Postal Service Cycling teammate and the 2002 USPRO National Champion. Armstrong's points total for the 1987 season as an amateur athlete was better than the five professionals ranked that year. At 16 years old, Armstrong became a professional triathlete and became the national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at age 18 and 19, respectively.
It soon became clear that his greatest talent was as a bicycle racer after competing as a cycling amateur, he won the U.S. amateur championship in 1991. Representing the U.S., he finished 14th in the 1992 Summer Olympics with the help of teammates Bob Mionske and Timm Peddie.
In 1993, Armstrong finished the year ranked number one in the world, winning 10 one-day events and stage races. He became one of the youngest-ever riders to win the world road race championship, and took his first stage win at the 1993 Tour de France. He also collected the Thrift Drug "Triple Crown of Cycling", which included three separate races: the Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh, the K-Mart West Virginia Classic, and the CoreStates USPRO National Championship in Philadelphia. Thrift Drug said it would award $1 million to any rider winning all 3 races, a feat which had never previously been done. At the USPRO Championship race, on the final lap circuit, Armstrong sat up on his bicycle, took out a comb, combed his hair and smiled for the cameras.
1994 was a less prolific year for Armstrong, although he again won the Thrift Drug Classic and came second in the Tour Du Pont in the U.S., his successes in Europe were limited to second placings in the Clásica San Sebastián and Ličge - Bastogne - Ličge races. He won the Clásica San Sebastián in 1995, and this time won the Tour Du Pont and took a handful of stage victories in Europe and the U.S. Armstrong's successes were much the same in 1996, and despite several small victories, he was an unremarkable rider in comparison to other riders achievements at the time. He finished 12th in the road race at the 1996 Olympic Games.
In 1999, he was named the American Broadcasting Company's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. In 2000 he won the Prince of Asturias Award in Sports. In 2002, Sports Illustrated magazine named him Sportsman of the Year. He was also named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. He received ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2003. Armstrong retired from racing on July 24, 2005, at the end of the 2005 Tour de France. But, on September 9, 2008 confirmed that he will return to competitive cycling for the 2009 season. Australian ABC radio reported on 24 September that Armstrong will compete in South Australia's Tour Down Under in early 2009.
A Tour Du Pont and took a handful of stage victories in Europe and the U.S. Armstrong's successes were much the same in 1996, and despite several small victories, he was an unremarkable rider in comparison to other riders achievements at the time. He finished 12th in the road race at the 1996 Olympic Games.
In the Tour De France, Lance Armstrong finishing 3rd in Sčte, taking over the Yellow Jersey at Grand Prix Midi Libre 2002. Before his cancer diagnosis and treatments, Armstrong had won two Tour de France stages. In 1993, he won the 8th stage and in 1995, he took stage 18 in honor of teammate Fabio Casartelli who crashed and died on stage 15.
Armstrong dropped out of the 1996 Tour De France in the 7th stage after becoming ill, a few months prior to his diagnosis with cancer.
On October 2, 1996, Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with nonseminomatous testicular cancer. The cancer had already spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. The standard chemotherapeutic regimen for Armstrong's type of cancer is known as BEP (Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin (or Platinol)). Armstrong, however, chose to undergo an alternative regimen, VIP (vinblastine, ifosfamide and Cisplatin), in order to avoid the lung toxicity associated with the drug Bleomycin. Lance Armstrong underwent surgery on his brain tumors, which were found to be necrotic, and an orchiectomy to remove his diseased testicle.
Lance Armstrong's cycling comeback began in 1998 when he finished fourth in the Vuelta a Espańa. In 1999 he won the Tour de France, which included four stage wins. He beat the second place rider, Alex Zülle, by a margin of 7 minutes 37 seconds. However, the absence of Jan Ullrich (injury) and Marco Pantani (following drug misuse allegations) meant that Armstrong had not yet proven himself against the biggest names in cycling. Stage wins included the Prologue, stage eight, an individual time trial in Metz, an Alpine mountain stage win on stage nine, and the second individual time trial on stage 19.
In 2000, Ullrich and Pantani returned to challenge Armstrong. The race that began a six year rivalry between Ullrich and Armstrong ended in victory for Armstrong by a margin of 6 minutes 2 seconds over Ullrich. Armstrong took one stage win in the 2000 Tour by winning the second individual time trial on stage 19. In 2001, Armstrong again took top honors, beating Ullrich by 6 minutes 44 seconds. In 2002, Ullrich did not participate, and Armstrong won with a 7 minute lead over Joseba Beloki.
The familiar pattern returned in 2003, with Armstrong taking first place and Ullrich taking second place. Only 1 minute 1 second separated the two at the end of the final day in Paris. U.S. Postal won the team time trial on Stage four, while Armstrong took stage 15, despite being knocked off his bike on the ascent to Luz Ardiden, the day's final climb, when a spectator's bag caught his right handlebar. Ullrich waited for him, which brought Ullrich several fair-play honors.
In 2004, Armstrong finished first, 6 minutes 19 seconds ahead of German cyclist Andreas Klöden. Ullrich was fourth, a further 2 minutes 31 seconds behind. Armstrong won a personal best five individual stages, plus the team time trial. He became the first man since Gino Bartali in 1948 to win three consecutive mountain stages; 15, 16, and 17. The individual time trial on stage 16 up L'Alpe d'Huez was won in considerable style by Armstrong as he passed Ivan Basso on the way up the epic climb, despite setting out 2 minutes after the Italian. He won sprint finishes from Basso in stages 13 and 15 and made up a significant gap in the last 250 meters to nip Klöden at the line in stage 17. He won the final individual time trial, stage 19, to complete his personal record of stage wins.
In his final tour in 2005, completing his record breaking feat, Armstrong crossed the finishing line on the Champs-Élysées on July 24 to win his 7th consecutive Tour de France title, finishing 4 minutes 40 seconds ahead of Ivan Basso, with Jan Ullrich occupying the third space on the podium. He started this tour losing out on the first stage time trial by only two seconds while passing Ullrich on the road. His Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team won the team time trial, while Armstrong won one individual stage, the final individual time trial.
In addition to his 7 Tour de France wins, Armstrong has won 22 individual stages, 11 time trials, and his team won the team time trial on 3 occasions.