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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 July, 2003, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Tour legends back Armstrong
Lance Armstrong
Some of cycling's greats have tipped Lance Armstrong to win a record sixth Tour de France next year.

The American won his fifth consecutive Tour on Sunday to move alongside Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Mercx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain in the record books and has already set his sights on surpassing them.

Merckx, winner in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974, said he could even see Armstrong winning a seventh Tour.

"He can win a sixth and, why not, a seventh Tour, if he concentrates solely on that one race," the Belgian told the Le Parisien newspaper.

"He knows how to prepare himself and with his drive and talent a sixth win is forseeable.

"When you know how much he suffers in the heat you have to recognise how intelligently he raced this year.

I hope he can do it again but if nobody has done it so far it shows how hard it is
Miguel Indurain

"If Armstrong is motivated, perfectly prepared and avoids bad luck, he can win again."

Hinault, winner in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985, also believes Armstrong can add to his tally of five Tours.

"It's not mission impossible. He can do it," he said. "But the opposition will be even tougher. The margin will be even slimmer."

But Indurain, whose wins in 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995, make him the only other rider to win five in a row, warned that it would be a tall order for the 31-year-old Armstrong.

"I hope he can do it again. But if nobody has done it so far it shows how hard it is," said the Spaniard.

"When you get to 32, the years count double. I found out in 1996 when the Tour was going through my hometown at Pamplona.

"I was desperate to win but the legs had gone. That was the year I was 32."



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VOTE RESULTS
Who is the greatest ever Tour de France champion?
Jacques Anquetil
 1.83% 
Eddy Merckx
 39.57% 
Bernard Hinault
 3.71% 
Miguel Indurain
 16.68% 
Lance Armstrong
 38.21% 
26613 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

TOUR DE FRANCE 2003


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