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  Sunday, 28 July, 2002, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
How long will Armstrong dominate?
Lance Armstrong's place among cycling's greats is assured
Lance Armstrong seals his fourth straight Tour de France in Paris.

Where does he rank among cycling's all-time greats?

This debate is now closed.

Armstrong finished with a 7min 17sec lead over Spaniard Joseba Beloki, and became only the fifth man to win cycling's premier race four times.

He joins legends Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain and surpasses the achievements of American Greg LeMond, who won the Tour three times.

The 30-year-old's place among cycling's greats is already assured, but how long will he continue to dominate?

And is he on course to become the greatest rider of all time?

Lance is good but not yet an Anquetil or Mercx. If he rode the Spring Classics and competed right thro' like they did, then I believe he could be truly great. Good rider, great win, best of luck for the next race.
Bill Gladwell, UK

It's a great debate: 'who is the greatest'? But like all great debates it's impossible to tell. I believe if all were at their peak Big Mig would have proved unbeatable. He would do the damage in the time trials and not let anyone get away from him in the mountains
Jordan, UK

This talk about Armstrong v the Big Mig is ridiculous. Give the two of them their just rewards, as both men are the definition of champions. An enduring desire and determination to be the best - both fit that description to a tee. Right now, just congratulate Lance, and remember the master - the Big Mig.
Sean, USA

I hope Lance beats all the records so that he finally gets some respect from you guys
Jeff, USA

Lance is probably the World's top athlete. The guy is not only a super sports man; he is also a master tactician. Every one of his rivals knows what he is going to do but none of them has the power to stop him.

The guy is inspirational - a superstar. If only England had sportsmen and women like Lance we wouldn't be so third rate.
Richard Hanney, England

You guys are funny. A man has come along that has taken the fun out of the tour because he wins it half the way through every year. I don't care how bad the competition is, Lance is still a force to be reckoned with. I hope he beats all the records so that he finally gets some respect from you guys.
Jeff, USA

A match between Lance and Miguel, the recent dominant riders, would be something to witness. Of course, that is the fun and challenge of such discussions. Lance returning from cancer is simply amazing - facing death and emerging stronger than ever shows a mental toughness that sets him apart.

In cycling, Eddy remains the greatest of all time for his staggering number of races and victories. But Lance, through cancer recovery, has applied his incredible prowess on the bike to provide inspiration beyond cycling.
Chris Lochra, USA

Four-in-a-row in such a gruelling event is simply magnificent
Rohandro, Australia

Why do the US networks continue to ignore the most physically demanding sports event on the planet? In an age when so many are disillusioned by the dollars and obscenity of major league baseball, football and basketball, the major networks shun covering the exploits of a true hero. A sad reflection on American sports' priorities!
Terrym, USA

Thank God for Armstrong, he takes our minds off the coming baseball strike. We in the States are currently short of sporting heroes.
Robert, USA

Lance is simply great, he is truly in a league of his own. In '96 he had a 20% chance to live with cancer in his lungs, brain and most of his body, and he now has four wins. Name any other rider who has overcome more and done what Lance has. I hope he pulls at least two more, if for no other reason than to bother the critics in France.
Jody, USA

Lance is THE GREATEST because of the illness he had to overcome. The mental strength of the man is awesome. A true champion.

After four-in-a-row, we should be referring to Lance in the same hushed tones as we did Jordan, Bradman, Nicklaus and Pele. Four-in-a-row in such a gruelling event is simply magnificent.
Rohandro, Australia

Would Indurain have been able to have done the same had he had serious cancer?
Hunter Hutchinson, USA

What I read here is European sour grapes. Anything an American does well just has to be criticized by you Europeans. Indurain never had to confront what Lance has confronted...cancer. The fact that Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer, went through surgery and cancer treatment, only to return to win four Tours de France, is a great accomplishment.

You Europeans don't even mention the cancer. Would Indurain have been able to have done the same had he had serious cancer? Be realistic and stop your American bashing.
Hunter Hutchinson, USA

I think we're all in agreement that Lance is one of the great Tour winners, and will go on to win more Tours. However, there is more to the true great riders like Merckx: they not only won the Tour, but also won just about everything else too.

Winning the Tour is not the be all and end all of cycling. I would like to see Lance winning some of the Spring Classics, as well as another crack at the Worlds. What about the track? Merckx did that too. But in the meantime, well done Lance, you're an inspiration to thousands of cancer sufferers all over the world.
Tony, France

Armstrong is among the greatest cyclists ever but a lot of the credit should also go to his team that supported him all the way and made him a winner.
Saad Darwazeh, Jordan

Eddy Merckx was the best and this is clearly shown by his winning all three jerseys in the same year!
Dinesh K, India

I believe Lance Armstrong's contribution to cycling is somewhat exaggerated. At present there just isn't any other rider strong enough. Miguel Indurain was a much more serious contender. Eddy Merckx remains unchallenged as the greatest of the tour riders.
Paddy, Ireland

Definitely Lance is amongst the greatest cyclists ever and the debate of whether he's better than Big Mig can go on and on. However, the fact is that Eddy Merckx was the best and is clearly shown by his winning all three jerseys in the same year!
Dinesh K, India

Congratulations to Lance Armstrong for taking his fourth Tour in a row. He was the strongest man in the field as no-one can dispute. In BBC's own head-to-head, Indurain's 58 points to Armstrong's 61 gives the impression that Lance is already the better of the two.

The suggestion that Indurain had no serious rivals in his time is misleading. The 1992 Tour had five former Tour winners. 2002 had one - Armstrong himself. In Armstrong's era only Jan Ullrich seriously has the class at this level to compete for top spot and injury ruled him out this year.

James Sykes suggests that Postal's big budget has helped secure the fourth Tour by eliminating Heras as a rival. Indurain's Banesto team once bought Jeff Bernard but after he was past his prime. The stats also fail to mention that Indurain at his peak in 1992-93 did the Giro/Tour double two years in a row.

Lance is class on a bike but, like LeMond before him, what matters to the US public is the Tour de France. He should win in 2003 but find it harder.
Stan, Jamaica

Lance Armstrong is the Tiger Woods of his sport - he belongs in a different league
William Waite, Canada

Armstrong normally only does the Tour de France, plus one other event as a warm up. Surely if every other pro rider did this, his "dominance" would be non-existent.
Phil, UK

There is no point comparing him to Merckx as the sport is totally different now. Big Mig would never have made much time in the time trials, look at the winning speeds of the time trials to back this up, and Lance would have creamed him in the mountains like he does to everyone else now. No contest, it's incredible to see the maillot jeune attacking everyday instead of following.
James Wright, Austria

Lance Armstrong is the Tiger Woods of his sport - he belongs in a different league. He plays a good head game too - by losing the first time trial he gave his foes false hope, only to take it away in the mountains, when he sprinted away from Beloki. The tour was decided at that point.
William Waite, Canada

With all due respect to Armstrong, I don't think he is quite the machine that Indurain was. Cameron (below) has got it right - the team is far bigger than any individual. There's no substitute for the American money that allows you to buy your closest rival to act as domestique, thereby flattering your ability.

I think Lance will win more tours than anyone in history, though, due to his hunger. But let's be honest, Big Mig could have won six or seven but had nothing left to prove after '95.
James Sykes, England

Not only is Armstrong a source of inspiration for all Americans, but he is a national hero
Jacob Carroll, Los Angeles, USA

Lance is obviously superior to Big Mig in the mountains - he destroys the opposition there in a way that Indurain never did. However, the title of finest cyclist of all time must go to Eddy Merckx for the feat of winning Yellow, Green and Polka Dot jerseys in the same year.

I have no doubt that Lance could get the King of the Mountains if he could be bothered, but the Maillot Vert is beyond him.
Philip Mulholland, Northern Ireland

Instead of supposing who's the best, how about we enjoy the moment? No flag waving or chest pounding, let's just enjoy this for what it is right now: a nice victory by what seems like a man with class.
Walt, US

Lance Armstrong is one of the few things that Americans can feel proud about in this day and age. Not only is he a source of inspiration for all Americans, but he is a national hero. It really does not matter how many more Tour de France titles he wins, he is already an everlasting symbol of determination and honour.
Jacob Carroll, Los Angeles, USA

Armstrong's strength is the excellent team that supports him
Cameron Robson, New Zealand

At a time when many other sports cause their followers to shake their heads in anger and disgust, Lance has single-handedly caused respect to return to cycling. I hope that this continues, because without someone like him, the sport will fade into minor league obscurity.
Fred Mis, USA

I don't bother comparing Armstrong to Indurain. It's like comparing Pele to Ronaldo - they're from a different era. Just enjoy the ride and appreciate them.
David Creed, United States of America

Armstrong's strength is the excellent team that supports him, and pulls him over most of the stage. I think Botero could be close to him next year.
Cameron Robson, New Zealand

I agree with you guys from across the pond. Lance is simply the best. He will surpass Indurain's achievements. I predict he will win seven Tours on the bounce. Big Mig was good, but Lance is great.
Alan, Wales

The idea that Indurain could have defeated Armstrong is laughable. Armstrong is the only one in the world who could challange Indurain in the time trials. But the real difference would be in the mountains where Armstrong has never really been pushed.

Armstong would annihilate Indurain on the long climbs. He would gain huge chunks of time on him that could never be made up on the flats. Please don't waste your time looking to history for rivals for the American. History has none to offer.
Will McElgin, USA

A message to all those who think Lance is the greatest thing since sliced bread. You must be living in cloud cuckoo land if you think that Lance is a better cyclist than Indurain. Big Mig would have sat on Lance's shoulder in the mountains, then destroyed him in the time trials. End of story (and lesson).
Gareth, Wales

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