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Sunday, July 25, 1999 Published at 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK


Armstrong secures Tour glory

Virenque, Armstrong and Zabel celebrate during the final stage

Lance Armstrong powered to a triumphant Tour de France victory on Sunday, capping a brilliant ride in cycling's showcase race and an even more amazing comeback from cancer.

The 27-year-old Texan's victory was never in doubt all day.

Le Tour de France
He had amassed a commanding lead of seven minutes and 37 seconds over his top rival, Alex Zulle of Switzerland, and only a disastrous fall could have dashed his chances of becoming only the second American, after Greg Lemond, to win the prestigious race.

The 20th and final stage was won by Australian Robbie McEwen, who edged out Germany's Erik Zabel in a final and furious sprint.


Simon Brotherton: "Lance Armstrong is the toast of Paris tonight"
Italy's Silvio Martinello of Polti came in third.

McEwen's success on the final day completed a bleak Tour for France. Hopes of a last-day win for the host nation were dashed and for the first time since 1926 there were no stage wins at all for French riders.

Le Tour back on track

Sunday's finish under brilliant skies could not have been more different from last year.

The 1998 race ended under drizzling rain after a disastrous drug scandal nearly scuttled the whole event.


[ image: Armstrong raises a glass of champagne on a relaxed final stage]
Armstrong raises a glass of champagne on a relaxed final stage
This year, Armstrong was subjected to innuendo, particularly in the French media, implying that he could not have accomplished his feat without the help of drugs.

But in the end, his victory was crushing.

On Saturday, he won the race's final time trial just as convincingly as he had won the other two in the race, further cementing his overall victory.

In an even bigger surprise, Armstrong showed this year that he had mastered the challenging mountain climbs as never before.

After he shocked many by easily winning the first stage in the Alps, he became the prohibitive favorite.

Zulle finished second in the overall standings, and Spain's Fernando Escartin came in third at 10min 26 sec behind to secure the last podium place.

Richard Virenque of France claimed the title of King of the Mountains for the fifth time and Zabel won the green jersey after winning the points competition.

Dedicated to the "cancer community"

"It's just incredible," Armstrong said. "I am very emotional."


Lance Armstrong: "I finished a happy man"
Asked whether he had ever imagined achieving victory in the Tour, Amstrong, replied: "No, never."

"It's a great honour," he said. "Both for American cycling, and for the cancer community."

Armstrong was diagnosed with a severe case of testicular cancer in 1996, which had already spread to his lungs and brain.

He had two operations - one to remove a testicle and one for brain lesions - as well as four rounds of chemotherapy.

Stage result
[ image:  ]

  • 1. Robbie McEwen (Aus/RAB), 143.5km in 3hr 37min 39sec (average: 39.559 kph)
  • 2. Erik Zabel (Ger/TEL) at 00:00.
  • 3. Silvio Martinello (Ita/PLT) 00:00.
  • 4. Stuart O'Grady (Aus/C.A) 00:00.
  • 5. Carlos Da Cruz (Fra/BIG) 00:00.
  • 6. Lars Michaelsen (Den/FDJ) 00:00.
  • 7. Salvatore Commesso (Ita/SAE) 00:00.
  • 8. Tom Steels (Bel/MAP) 00:00.
  • 9. Steffen Wesemann (Ger/TEL) 00:00.
  • 10. Gianpaolo Mondini (Ita/CTA) 00:00.
  • 11. Henk Vogels (Aus/C.A) 00:00.
  • 12. Christophe Moreau (Fra/FES) 00:00.
  • 13. Jacky Durand (Fra/LOT) 00:00.
  • 14. Mariano Piccoli (Ita/LAM) 00:00.
  • 15. Pascal Chanteur (Fra/CSO) 00:00.
  • 16. Francois Simon (Fra/C.A) 00:00.
  • 17. Luca Mazzanti (Ita/CTA) 00:00.
  • 18. Dimitri Konyshev (Rus/MER) 00:00.
  • 19. Christophe Capelle (Fra/BIG) 00:00.
  • 20. Ludovic Auger (Fra/BIG) 00:00.

    Final general classification

  • 1. Lance Armstrong (USA/USP) 91hr 32min 16sec
  • 2. Alex Zulle (Swi/BAN) at 07:37.
  • 3. Fernando Escartin (Spa/KEL) 10:26.
  • 4. Laurent Dufaux (Swi/SAE) 14:43.
  • 5. Angel Casero (Spa/VIT) 15:11.
  • 6. Abraham Olano (Spa/ONC) 16:47.
  • 7. Daniele Nardello (Ita/MAP) 17:02.
  • 8. Richard Virenque (Fra/PLT) 17:28.
  • 9. Wladimir Belli (Ita/FES) 17:37.
  • 10. Andrea Peron (Ita/ONC) 23:10.
  • 11. Kurt Van de Wouwer (Bel/LOT) 23:32.
  • 12. David Etxebarria (Spa/ONC) 26:41.
  • 13. Tyler Hamilton (USA/USP) 26:53.
  • 14. Stephane Heulot (Fra/FDJ) 27:58.
  • 15. Roland Meier (Swi/COF) 28:44.
  • 16. Benoit Salmon (Fra/CSO) 28:59.
  • 17. Alberto Elli (Ita/TEL) 33:39.
  • 18. Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita/MAP) 34:14.
  • 19. Carlos Contreras (Col/KEL) 34:53.
  • 20. Georg Totschnig (Aut/TEL) 37:10.





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