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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Lance Armstrong
ARMSTRONG PROFILE
Lance Armstrong
Nationality: American
Best Tours: Winner - 1999-2002
The engraver of the winner's trophy is already poised to etch Lance Armstrong's name there for a fifth time, so strong is his pre-race billing as favourite.

Even his closest rivals are taking about when and by how much he will achieve a record-equalling victory - not if.

Armstrong, like Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain before him, has made the race his own.

So much so, in fact, it is regularly billed as the "Tour de Lance" these days.

Challenges will undoubtedly come from ONCE, Telekom and Jan Ullrich at Team Bianchi. But none of them boast the same religious, almost freakish, preparation to the annual race.

Armstrong is one of those few cyclists whose fame transcends the limits of his sport.

There is very little to say about the Texan's efforts which has not already been publicised all over the world.

His successful battle against testicular cancer and his quartet of wins in the Tour de France have both been well documented.

Last year he seemed to coast to his easiest victory to date, never once looking bothered in the mountains.

Cancer comeback

His dedication is legendary. Like other current sporting greats such as Tiger Woods or Michael Schumacher, Armstrong is not only the best, he also works hardest.

Armstrong's early career saw him represent the USA at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona and his first big Tour success came in 1993 when he won a stage.

A promising career took a further step when he became the youngest road race world champion at the age of 21.

All that success was put on hold following successful chemotherapy treatment for cancer so advanced that many thought it a miracle when he survived.

But, when he returned to training, he found his muscle grew back in a different way to make him a sleaker and more competitive cyclist, particularly in the mountains.

He has used that new strength to become a formidable sportsman whose electric acceleration at crucial points on gruelling climbs is a key weapon in his Tour success.





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