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Lance Armstrong

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Template:Alternateuses Lance Armstrong (born September 18, 1971) is an American cyclist from Texas. He is most famous for recovering from cancer to subsequently win the Tour de France a record six consecutive times—1999 to 2004. His success prompted some to nickname the event Tour de Lance.

Armstrong's achievements have been widely lauded. In 2002, Sports Illustrated magazine named him their Sportsman of the Year. He was also named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003 and 2004, received ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003 and 2004, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2003. In April 2005, Armstrong announced that he would retire from racing after the 2005 edition of the Tour.


Contents

Career

Early career

Armstrong was born in Plano, Texas and was raised by his mother, Linda Mooneyham, whose spirit and independence has often been cited by Armstrong as his greatest influence. Armstrong received his surname at the age of three, when his mother married Terry Armstrong. Lance began his sporting career as a triathlete, competing in seniors' competitions from the age of 16. It soon became clear that his greatest talent lay in racing bikes.

At 17, Lance received an invitation to train with the Junior National Cycling Team. Plano Independent School District's school board said that the six-week leave to train taken during the second semester of his senior year would bar him from graduating. Armstrong withdrew from his high school, Plano East Senior High, with his mother's blessing and went to train with the team. He graduated from another high school in Dallas the following spring. Lance still harbors resentment toward Plano because of this and prefers his adopted home of Austin, Texas.

After competing as a cycling amateur, winning the US amateur championship in 1991 and finishing 14th in the 1992 Olympics road race, Armstrong turned professional in 1992. The following year he scored his first major victory as he rode solo to win the World Road Championships in Oslo, Norway. His victory was so dominant (he had time to blow kisses to his mother in the home straight) that he was invited to an audience with the King of Norway, which he initially turned down after finding his mother was not included in the invitation. Minutes later, the King invited both.

His successes continued with Team Motorola, with whom he won a stage in the 1995 Tour de France and several classic one-day events. In that same year, he won the premier U.S. cycling event, the Tour DuPont, having placed second in 1994. He won the Tour DuPont again in 1996, and was ranked number one cyclist in the world. Later in 1996, however, he abandoned the Tour de France and had a disappointing Olympic Games. These early disappointments spurred him on to the great things he has achieved post-cancer, and he admits that had he given in on the devilishly difficult Clasica san Sebastian he could have retired from the sport..

During his time with Motorola, Fabio Casartelli, a teammate, died on a descent in the Tour. As a young and hugely promising cyclist this was a blow for the team, the sport, and Fabio's nation, Italy. Team Motorola was allowed to take an uncontested next stage as a mark of respect.

Cancer

In October of 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with testicular cancer that had metastasized, spreading to his lungs and brain. His doctors told him that he had a fifty-percent chance of survival. After his recovery, one of his doctors told him that his actual odds of survival were considerably smaller (one even went as far as to say 3%), and that he had been given the 50 percent estimate primarily to give him hope. Armstrong managed to recover after invasive surgery to remove brain lesions, and a severe course of chemotherapy, performed at Indiana University School of Medicine. The standard chemotherapy for his cancer would have meant the end of his cycling career, because a known side effect was a dramatic reduction in lung function; he opted for a more severe treatment that was less likely to result in lung damage. While in remission he resumed training, but found himself unceremoniously, if unsurprisingly, dropped by his Cofidis team. This was one of the factors which lead to his near retirement from the sport, because of which he and his then-girlfriend (now ex-wife) moved to France on two different occasions due to his changes of heart. He was eventually signed by the newly formed United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team, and by 1998, he was able to make his successful return in the cycling world marked by his fourth place overall finish in the Vuelta a España.

Tour de France

Lance's true comeback came in 1999, when he won his first Tour de France. His final lead times over his closest competitor have been over six minutes every year except for 2003, when he finished 1:01 ahead of Jan Ullrich, following an unusual set of circumstances including a stomach illness at the outset of the race.

Missing image
Lance-Armstrong-TdF2004.jpg
Armstrong at speed during the prologue to the Tour de France, 2004.

In his most recent Tour victory (2004), Armstrong won with a personal-best 5 stages, plus the team time trial (TTT) with his U.S. Postal Service "Blue Train". He contends he let his friend Ivan Basso win Stage 12 at the finish line as his way of offering support for Basso's mother's struggle with cancer, though video footage appears to show Armstrong being beaten fairly. After that he seized the reins by outsprinting Basso to take the very next stage, and followed that up by becoming the first man since Gino Bartali in 1948 to win three consecutive mountain stages—15, 16, and 17. For the first time Armstrong also found himself unable to ride away from his rivals in the mountains (except for the individual time trial in stage 16 up L'Alpe d'Huez when he started two minutes behind Basso and passed him up) and won in sprint finishes in stages 13 and 15 versus Basso and made up a huge gap in the last 250 meters to nip Andreas Klöden at the line in stage 17. He won the final individual time trial (ITT), stage 19, to complete his personal-record of stage wins.

Family and hobbies

Armstrong and his ex-wife Kristin (Kik - pronounced Keek) had a son shortly after his amazing comeback victory, and twin girls two years later, all by in vitro fertilization, or IVF. Armstrong and his wife divorced in 2003. As of September 2004, Armstrong had been in a relationship with singer Sheryl Crow for about a year (source: The Tonight Show appearance September 1).

For relaxation, Armstrong also enjoys mountain biking and trout fishing, and casual rides on his bike with his son.

Reasons for success

Lance has triumphed partly because he has made a career of the Tour de France, training in Spain for the year leading up to the Tour, and making frequent trips to France to fully analyze and ride key parts of the upcoming Tour course. For example, during his preparation for the 2004 Tour, he rode virtually every stage at least once, and rode the Alpe d'Huez climb, site of a key time trial, multiple times in the course of five days.

His riding style is also distinctive. Pedalling very quickly (a high "cadence"), often in a lower gear than his competitors, he can maintain a cadence of 120 cycles per minute on flats during time trials, and is able to rapidly accelerate away from his main rivals who tend to use higher gears but pedal more slowly while riding uphill. As an example, the Spanish five-time Tour de France winner, Miguel Induráin, preferred to power a huge gear at a low cadence. Armstrong can maintain incredible speeds even when going up the most daunting climbs of the Tour and at times even specialist climbers are unable to keep pace with him on a consistent basis. The ability to maintain this high cadence for such long distances is based on his extremely high anaerobic threshold, allowing him to work at a high intensity without building up lactic acid levels that force lesser athletes to back off. Much of his training is based on raising this level, and in learning exactly where the limit is.

Unlike most gifted climbers, however, Armstrong is also exceptional in the individual time trial, and is as good as, if not better than, those physically more suited to the discipline, such as rival Jan Ullrich. In the mold of Induráin, Armstrong is not very aggressive during the most of the Tour, preferring to gain a lead in the time trials or with a few well-placed mountain attacks, before sitting back and letting his team defend the lead. Despite this relatively defensive strategy, Armstrong's mountain attacks are so forceful that he often puts minutes on his rivals over the course of just a few kilometers.

Some have attributed Armstrong's success in recent years in part to his US Postal Service cycling team (now the Discovery Channel Team). While the U.S. Postal Team competes in races worldwide, the riders selected to join Armstrong in the Tour de France are there specifically to help Armstrong win the Yellow Jersey.

Allegations of drug use

Like many top international sports men and women, Armstrong has long been dogged by allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. However, despite being subjected to dozens of drug tests, he has never proved positive to any illicit substance. Specifically, his hematocrit rate was never found to exceed the threshold above what suggests that the racer used the drug EPO, which was once rife throughout cycling (though Armstrong did take EPO for one of its approved medical uses, to help his recovery during cancer treatment, there is no suggestion that this was an unfair advantage for his subsequent cycling achievements). When training, Lance boosts his red blood cell count through cycling at altitude and sleeping in an altitude tent.

In 1999 he tested positive for a corticoid, and although he did not declare taking the medication on the form before the test, the UCI accepted it was in his system due to his use of a legal skin cream to treat road rash and saddle sores. Particularly vocal have been Greg LeMond, the only other American to have won the Tour, and the French newspaper Le Monde, who have questioned his association with doctor/trainer, Dr. Michele Ferrari, who in 2004 was found guilty in an Italian court for unlawful distribution of medicines and sporting fraud. Armstrong has stated that his connection to Dr. Ferrari did not go beyond occasional consultations on altitude training and diet. Another racer, Italian Filippo Simeoni, implicated Armstrong when confessing to the use of illegal drugs prescribed by Dr. Ferrari. Armstrong stated that Simeoni was not telling the truth, calling him "a compulsive liar", and a legal process started between the two. During the 2004 Tour, the Armstrong-Simeoni feud manifested its presence during the race itself [1] (http://www.velonews.com/tour2004/details/articles/6647.0.html). In stage 18 Simeoni was in a group that had broken away from the main peloton. As there was nobody in the breakaway that threatened in the General Classification, the group stood a good chance of staying in front until the finish line. Armstrong, however, single-handedly chased them down. He told the members of the breakaway that he would be staying with them if Simeoni was present. It was apparent that the peloton would chase down a breakaway which included Armstrong, so Simeoni was persuaded to leave it - with Armstong. The breakaway went on to take the stage. Armstrong's tactic was controversial, with some commentators considering it vindictive. Others viewed it as a demonstration by Armstrong that he did not need drugs to be a superior rider to Simeoni. In 2005, Italian police are investigating Armstrong for "private violence" and intimidating a witness as a result of this incident. [2] (http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?id=news/2005/jun05/jun01news)

None of his accusers have produced evidence to substantiate the rumors. In 2004, circumstantial evidence was published in the book L.A. Confidentiel : Les secrets de Lance Armstrong (ISBN 2846751307) which was released less than three weeks before the Tour de France. It was written by David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, who readily admitted that "There's no smoking gun. It's all circumstantial evidence." Walsh is a respected sportswriter with the London Sunday Times and Ballester a former sportswriter for l'Équipe in France. Armstrong's solicitors issued proceedings in the High Court in London against the Sunday Times and David Walsh, seeking substantial damages, and in Paris against Walsh, Ballester, the publishers of LA Confidential and the publishers of l’Express which printed excerpts from the book.

The Future

Immediately after winning his record sixth Tour de France, rumors began circulating about Armstrong's future, with some speculating that he would like to spend more time with his family, as well as girlfriend Sheryl Crow. On April 18 2005, these rumors were confirmed. Armstrong held a press conference to announce that he would retire from professional cycling after the 2005 Tour de France, which would be the final race of his 14 year career. He cited wanting to spend more time with his children as a major reason for retirement.

In an interview with the New York Times, teammate George Hincapie hinted at Armstrong possibly running for governor of Texas after retiring from cycling. In the July 2005 issue of Outside Magazine (http://outside.away.com/outside/toc/200507.html), Armstrong himself hinted at possibly running for governor - although "not in 06."

Teams and victories

Teams

  • 1991-1992: United States National Team
  • 1992-1996: Motorola
  • 1997: Cofidis
  • 1998-2002: US Postal Service
  • 2003-2004: US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor
  • 2005: Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team


Victories

1992

  • First Union Grand Prix
  • GP Sanson
  • Longsjo Classic (1 stage win)
  • Thrift Drug Classic
  • Tour de Ribera (4 stage wins)

1993

  • Thrift Drug Classic
  • Trofeo Laigueglia
  • 8th stage of the Tour de France
  • USPro Championship
  • West Virginia Classic (2 stage wins)
  • World Road Championships

1994

  • Thrift Drug Classic

1995

  • Clasica San Sebastian
  • 18th stage of the Tour de France
  • Tour du Pont (3 stage wins)
  • West Virginia Classic (1 stage win)
  • Stage 5 Paris Nice

1996

1998

  • Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt
  • Tour de Luxembourg (1 stage victory)
  • Cascade Classic

1999

  • Tour de France (4 stage victories)
  • Prologue Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (ITT)
  • Stage 4 Route du Sud
  • Stage 4 Circuit de la Sarthe (ITT)

2000

  • Tour de France (1 stage victory)
  • GP des Nations
  • GP Eddy Merckx
  • Stage 3 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (ITT)

2001

  • Tour de France (4 stage victories)
  • Tour de Suisse (2 stage victories)

2002

2003

  • Tour de France (1 stage victory + Team Time Trial)
  • Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (Overall), Stage 3 Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (ITT)

2004

  • Tour de France (5 stage victories + Team Time Trial)
  • Tour de Georgia (2 stage victories)
  • Stage 5 Tour du Languedoc-Roussillon
  • Stage 4 Volta ao Algrave (ITT)

Further reading

  • Lance Armstrong, Sally Jenkins: It's Not About The Bike. My Journey Back to Life (ISBN 0425179613), Putnam 2000. Armstrong's own account of his battle with cancer and subsequent triumphant return to bike racing.
  • Lance Armstrong, Sally Jenkins: Every Second Counts (ISBN 0385508719), Broadway Books 2003. Armstrong's account of his life after his first four Tour triumphs.
  • Linda Armstrong Kelly, Joni Rodgers: No Mountain High Enough : Raising Lance, Raising Me (ISBN 076791855X), Broadway Books 2005. Armstrong's mother's account of raising a world class athlete and overcoming adversity.da:Lance Armstrong

de:Lance Armstrong et:Lance Armstrong es:Lance Armstrong fr:Lance Armstrong it:Lance Armstrong he:לאנס ארמסטרונג nl:Lance Armstrong ja:ランス・アームストロング no:Lance Armstrong pl:Lance Armstrong pt:Lance Armstrong simple:Lance Armstrong sv:Lance Armstrong

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