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Sunday, 29 July, 2001, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Rank Armstrong among the greats
America's Lance Armstrong has won his third Tour de France in succession and established himself as a legend of the sport.
But where does the Texan rank among cycling's greats?
Lance Armstrong's climb to the peak of his sport is one of the great stories of triumph over adversity.
The Texan fought cancer before getting back in the saddle and winning three Tours in succession, a feat achieved by few.
Louison Bobet sealed an historic three-in-row between 1953-55, while Jacques Anquetil continued France's "Golden Age", winning five times between 1957-64.
Belgium's Eddy Merckx, "The Cannibal", matched Anquetil's feat between 1969-74, while Frenchman Bernard Hinault won five between 1978 and 1985.
Before Armstrong, five-time winner Miguel Indurain was thought to be the only challenger to Merckx's tag as "The Greatest".
But could the man who came back from the brink be the best ever?
Send us your thoughts.
Armstrong's achievements are all the more remarkable given his medical history, and he shows more panache than either Indurain or LeMond. Comparisons with Hinault, Merckx or Anquetil are very difficult because they competed all year round, and there were fewer genuine challengers to their crowns. However, just as the greatest 1970's football teams wouldn't be able to compete with the modern best, you sense that none of those three would be able to race with such success now.
If Lance was to take a fourth and fifth Tour, and then dedicate a season to winning the year-long World Cup, few could argue that he was the best. But Lance, stop saying "I've never tested positive." Festina never tested positive - and look what happened to them!
Lance's strength and determination, to say nothing of his beautiful, sportsmanlike style over the past three Tours de France have been nothing short of inspirational. I wouldn't presume to rank him with cyclist's past, but he stands tall in my heart, and I am proud to call him my countryman. I have every confidence that he will go on to cement his place in cycling history. Time will tell!
Lance must surely rank in the top five cyclists of all time. More importantly, in an age of greed, narcissism and poor conduct, he is right at the top. Furthermore, his courage and fortitude to continue despite overwhelming odds is without peer.
In our times, where millions of dollars are spent on perfecting elite sports figures performances, Lance Armstrong's dominance of this year's Tour will endure as one of the great achievements in cycling history. He crushed the opposition. He dominated. And probably he could have won the Tour by an hour or more if he had pushed the whole race. Lance Armstrong has come from death's door to be the fittest man on the planet.
If you where to critique just this year¿s race it has to be one of the most impressive performances in tour history. The 6:44 margin only says a small part about this Tour. There was not a single stage that Armstrong did not seem in control.
As for Armstrong¿s career already being compared to the riders who have won five Tours, one is being premature. Every single Tour overall victory is a monumental undertaking for any rider - even the likes of Lance. He still has to collect two more Tour victories. History will prove whether he can sustain his dominance. I hope he can.
Lance Armstrong is a typical example of what sport is about these days. How quickly heroes are made on one or two performances. This is a guy who's cycling season is based on one race - The Tour de France. A great cyclist is one who rides all the major Tours such as the Giro de Italia and Tour of Spain. He chooses not to race in any of these other Tours.
It's a shame to mention his name with the likes of Hinault, Lemond, Indurain and least of all Eddy Merckx. Let's hold all this adulation for men who rode bikes all year round and every race was meaningful. If Eddy Merckx only lived for the Tour de France one can only begin to imagine how many he would have won.
I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Stephen Roche yet. He won the Tour, the Giro and the World Championships in 1987, a feat that Lance, great as he is, hasn't come anywhere near yet. Lance's domination of the Tour over the last few years and, especially this year's performance, does undoubtedly put him in the same bracket as Mercx, Indurain, Anquetil, Lemond and Hinault.
I don't like to see Europeans versus Americans in this. I'd rather that we all joined together in appreciation of this greatest bike race and be glad that Americans are finally seeing they are part of it too. Thanks to Lemond and Armstrong, Americans are paying attention to cycling and Le Tour. Hooray. If Armstrong wins five - and a couple of big name classics - he'll equal, not surpass Indurain and Merckx- a trio of heroes.
Armstrong is certainly one of the better cyclists but certainly not the best. The cycling season is not only about the Tour de France. Merckx won all the classics, all the Tours, the hour record. He competed 11 months a year and won. Not like Armstrong who competes only one month a year. Merckx is the greatest of all time. Armstrong isn't even close.
Lance's strength, his determination, his humility and his honesty are all the right ingredients for a champion. The other greats, such as Hinault and Merckx, never had to recover from cancer and did not lose years of strength and endurance training. Does this place Lance among them? It should do!
Graham Springett, UK
The numbers don't lie. He time trials faster than Indurain (Joe, from Canada, get your facts straight). He climbs faster than Pantani. He has the flair of Hinault and the heart of Eddy. In 10 years when he has won more tours (I predict 6) than anyone in history, how will you not classify him as the greatest? Don't give me that retro stuff about having to win classics also. How many classics did Indurain win? The Texan Rules!
Lance is without doubt a great cyclist, but I wouldn't rank him up there with the legends yet. He doesn't have that unbeatable air of Merckx and Indurain. But with all the sport scientists and nutritionists out there, why does he feel the need to compromise himself by association with the likes of Dr Ferrari? As for recovering from cancer and winning, that's fantastic, but so too was Lemond's comeback.
I have to disagree with Mike from the UK who qualifies Armstrong in the same league as Indurain and Lemond, but more surprisingly, ranks him above the great Eddy Merckx. How could he? Merckx was an all-round cyclist, winning the Tour five time as well as every other prize imaginable in cycling. This can certainly not be said of Armstrong, Indurain and Lemond who base their season on the Tour. Armstrong's decision not to participate in this year's world championships is for me the sign that he does not seek to be the world's greatest cyclist and thus that he never will be.
Like all the greats before him, Lance combines awesome climbing power, strong TT rides and leadership in the pelaton. Let's not forget this guy has won big one-day races as well. Needs to hang on a few more years to be in the Eddie/Bernard/Miguel class.
Robert Campbell, US
The fact that Armstrong can even ride the Tour, let alone win it three times in a row is an unbelievable feat. However, Indurain won three Tours on the back of two Giro wins. Lance has shown he can do it in France, now he's got to show he can run more than one big race a year.
Yes Armstrong is good, and one day may be considered one of the greats. However, to Merckx the Tour was just another race in the year's calendar, not his sole objective. When Lance can compete in and win some of the other big three tours he may earn his place at the top.
Ok, there's no denying that Lance is an amazing rider. And he ranks with the likes of Merckx, Anquetil, Hinault and Indurain, particularly given his return from cancer. However, like Indurain there is one question that hangs over his domination of the Tour. Unlike Merckx and Hinault, he doesn't win spring classics or 'smaller' tours throughout the season. Even Indurain won a couple of Giros...
An amazing finish to a great tour. Lance has pulled the tour from the brink of disaster, what with the doping scandal a few years ago. He is a hero for the sport and for each of us. I can't wait to see him in Paris in 2003 taking No 6!
Aidan O'Hare, Phoenix, AZ
As a cancer survivor myself, Armstrong can do no wrong in my book. Three in a row must mean the guy has what it takes, so I take my hat off to him. He is an inspiration to us all!
Lance may not be 'The Greatest' but he must surely now be classed as one of the greats. The story of his remarkable recovery from cancer is an inspiration to millions of people worldwide and his courage and determination deserve nothing but the highest praise.
His dedication to the sport puts the majority of his rivals to shame and I think the French media should stop carping and afford him a little more respect.
He is up there with Lemon, Indurain, etc. To recover from cancer, get himself back into pro racing and then win 3 Tour de France's is a remarkable feat, putting him in a position as a great sportsman, even above the likes of Merckx.
Anyone who has ever cycled a few miles must admire the tremendous endurance of all these athletes. But to destroy the best cyclists in the world so convincingly, as was done by Armstrong and his predecessor "greats", is almost superhuman!
George Hill, UK
Greatness is not measured by how many races you may have won - it is a quality that comes from within.
Lance gives American's something that is missing in most of our sports greats - class and dignity. Our sports heroes are grossly overpaid and often show the world that money and class are not related to one another.
Attitude is the name of the game and setting an example never comes into consideration. Lance reminds us that greatness shines brightest when it is coupled with humility and graciousness to ones opponents.
Lance Armstrong put it best when ask the same question during a interview aired in the US on the Tour's final Sunday He said that it was only for others to decided his place in the ranks of the sport, and only then after his racing years have long past.
Aaron Wilson, USA
The French fans and media will always attempt to marginalize Lance because they can't stomach American dominance of a "European" sport.
A prediction: Lance will win five in a row, then retire out of respect to Indurain and Merckx.
Lance has the mental power of a superhero. Few can attest to what it takes to do what he just did. Nice job! You made history today.
Lance Armstrong - what a man! He may not be the greatest just yet, but considering he came so close to death, for me, he is God. I was in the States when he won his first Tour in '99 and the warmth he portrayed during interviews was simply overwhelming.
The man is such a proud and great guy. When Ullrich fell on the descent of the Col de Peyresourde, Lance did not take advantage of his great rival's misfortune. Instead he slowed down and waited for him to rejoin his group. Typical of Mr Lance Armstrong. Well done mate, you deserve it so much.
Derek Bentall, Crawley, England
He is truly one of the greats. Overcoming testicular cancer to win three Tours is a remarkable achievement. I hope that he gets his five Tours, he deserves it.
He's not the best.....Yet!
Lance is the best since Indurain. Few can argue that. Indurain's top speed during the time trials was 5-7km/h faster than that of Armstrong (yes, different courses).
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