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Tuesday, 1 August, 2000, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Is Armstrong one of the greats?
Is Armstrong one of the greats?
American Lance Armstrong has racked up his second successive Tour de France, but how does he rank alongside legends Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain?

The Texan rider has become the second American to retain the Tour crown, emulating the feat of three-time winner Greg LeMond.

Since overcoming testicular cancer over two years ago, Armstrong has gone from strength to strength.

But the American still rejects comparisons with the greats Eddie Merckx, Miguel Indurain, Jacques Anquetil, and Bernard Hinault.

These five-time winners have dominated the Tour de France over the years, and Armstrong says he has a long way to go before equalling their records.

So what do you think?

Can Armstrong stand shoulder to shoulder with Bernard the Badger, Eddy the Cannibal, "Big Mig" Indurain or "Maitre" Jacques Anquetil?

Is Armstrong one of the greats?

HAVE YOUR SAY


Lance has been supreme in the Tour for the last two years but I do not believe he is one of the true greats. If he manages to win the tour five times then yes, but he has a long way to go. People say that 'Big Mig' was not a true champion as he only concentrated on the Tour - in this day and age to be at a physical peak you must aim for specific events only. To win five Tours in a row is incredible - go for it Lance and show us what you can do.
Stewart House, England

Lance has proved that he is not just a great rider but also the new "patron" of the Tour - the other riders respect him and he leads as a leader should, from the front. He is tactically astute and rides with flair - for that reason and the fact that he has already won two Tours and been world champion, I think he has to be considered one of the greats.
Nick Lidell, UK

What Lance has achieved is beyond comprehension. It can be considered one of the greatest achievements in sporting history. But his return from cancer aside, he cannot yet be considered in the same league as Hinault, Merckx or Anquetil. These riders were great not because they won the Tour five times each, but because they won everything, dominating all events from one day classics to the big tours. It is also for this reason that I can't see how Big Mig, unsurpassed as he was in the Tour de France, can be considered one of the greats. Riding your whole season around one event is not what makes you great. Armstrong seems to realise this with his ambitions of winning Olympic Gold.
Greg Turner, UK

Armstrong is taking world cycling to a different level, not because of his natural talent but because of his training procedures. Before being diagnosed with cancer Armstrong was just another rider riding for Cofidis but on his journey doctors have improved his ventilation and strength and the results are evident. The others need to catch up or again be blitzed by Armstrong.
Cameron Thompson, UK


Perhaps not right now, but in a few years time we will probably regard Lance as one the cycling greats
  Tony Brooks, UK
Anyone who wins the Tour and successfully defends it is a 'great'. A comparison between the great cyclists of the past is difficult, the nature of the game is always changing. A poll/review by his cycling peers may be interesting. Perhaps "elefantino" can tell us what makes an athlete "great"?
John Jones, USA

We can compare all we want, but there is one thing apparent: Lance Armstrong is the strongest man alive today, on a bike. Whether or not that changes is up to Lance. My feelings are one or two more wins and then retirement in order to be with his family. I don't think he takes anything for granted these days and wants to spend as much time as he can with them.
Monte Shaffer, USA

Cycling is not only Tour de France. Armstrong has reached the rank of the 15 great cycling legends of all times. But there is still a long way to be compared with the grand Merckx (more than 500 victories) or giants like Hinault, Coppi, Anquetil and then champions like Indurain, Bobet, Lemond, Van Looy and Bartali. He can be compared with the group: Fignon, Thévenet, Ocana... Hopefully Armstrong is still racing.
Lebon Didier, France (Brittany)

Perhaps not right now, but in a few years time we will probably regard Lance as one the cycling greats. We all respect Lance for his incredible comeback from Cancer, but if you take a look at his 'palmares', they don't compare with the likes of Hinault, Merckx, Coppi, etc, just yet. I have little doubt though, that he will go on to reach such heights.
Tony Brooks, UK


Armstrong needs to win a Giro or two and a couple of Vueltas
  Lloyd, Britain
Lance Armstrong's achievements are staggering. Eddy Merckx, Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali are out on their own but Armstrong is next in line. Hinault was a selfish and cautious champion. Indurain only truly raced for three weeks every July and Anquetil's victories were achieved by flawless time trialling with courses prepared to suit him. Armstrong has already passed these champions in my view and is still improving. By the way watch David Millar go in 2002. He may be the guy to knock Lance off the podium!
Paul Cranswick, Malaysia

Awesome though Lance Armstrong's achievements are (on the bike and in his remarkable recovery from cancer), he is being judged on performances in the Tour de France. Not only did previous 'greats' ride and win races from Het Volk in February through to the Tour of Lombardy in the autumn, they also notched up successes in the other major tours. In order to rank alongside the likes of Indurain, Merckx etc, Armstrong needs to win a Giro or two and a couple of Vueltas. Perhaps even in the same season.
Lloyd, Britain


This is a joke! Lance Armstrong, before his problems with cancer, was an average rider who could win the one-off events and stages
  Adam Milsom, England
Of course he's one of the greats. None of the others has had to deal with testicular cancer and all the psychological and physical punishment that the disease and its treatment brings.
Ron Bennett, Canada

Yes, of course Lance Armstrong is one of the all time greats. He can do it all! He can climb, he can sprint, he is a team leader, he is an intelligent rider, he has class, he has an immense passion for cycling and for life. What more do you want?
Terry Phillips, United States

He's a great athlete on an even greater journey...there's no reason to compare.
Howard, USA


A man who thought he couldn't have made it to the podium, say five years ago, has become one of the best climbers in the world
  Ben, USA
Lance has put the dagger in its place. It is a beautiful sight to see him attack in the mountains. A man, who thought he couldn't have made it to the podium, say five years ago, has become one of the best climbers in the world. Given how he prepares for the tour, he will win more to be compared with the greats.
Ben, USA

I think Lance has done a great job coming back from his illness in the way he has. It shows amazing fortitude to ride the Tour after all that he has been through. However, to compare him to greats such as Indurain and Hinault is unfair. Lance needs more time and several more wins in order to be rated as highly as these legends. I do believe that this will not be the last tour victory for Armstrong and that he and Ullrich will develop a great rivalry.
Joe Juice, Scotland

It is invalid to compare the modern day cyclists to those of the era of Anquetil, Merckx and even Hinault. The sport is so different now. But Lance proved he is a world class performer several years before this year's Tour de France victory: A rider who can win single day events and major tours is an outstanding athlete and is up there with the best. The attacking manner in which Lance has won his tours is also to be applauded. Today's performance by him is even more remarkable when you consider he was close to death and to merely walk again was a goal he dreamed of! Despite your modesty you are up there Lance.
John Hopper, England

Armstrong's recovery from cancer and his subsequent tour victories must be one of the greatest sporting achievements of all time and now he can climb mountains like Robert Millar!
Peter Marshall, Scotland


All I know is that anyone on the tour is a superman, capable of feats that Mr average does not even comprehend
  Andrew Torrance, Wales
Outstanding as his success has been, based on results to date, he is not up there with the greats. Based on spirit and guts he stands there with them. All I know is that anyone on the tour is a superman, capable of feats that Mr average does not even comprehend. The only question is who is best now and at the moment, it is Lance. Next year it may be someone else. It is a hard cruel sport that takes no prisoners and the only certainty is that the best rider in the race usually wins it.
Andrew Torrance, Wales, UK

While Lance Armstrong cannot yet be compared to the greatest, he appears to be on his way. Surely his recovery from cancer demonstrates that he may well ultimately be included among the giants of the sport. We will not know for certain for a few more years, however.
Peter C Christianson, USA

With all the turmoil surrounding today's athletes, one should look to the accomplishments Lance Armstrong has achieved. Not only is he a great cyclist, and a "true athlete", he's also a human being! His accomplishments have made it possible for others to realise what life is really about. Thanks Lance.
Dennis Doyle, USA

As a competitive tri-athlete myself, I've known about Lance for years, when he was a young star on the Tri circuit. I watched his career as a pro cyclist with interest, as cycling is my preferred sport in triathlon. What he has achieved since falling ill with cancer, which had spread to his brain and abdomen, remember, not only makes him a cycling "great" but puts him into the hallowed arena of heroes alongside athletes like Wilma Rudolph, who beat crippling childhood paralysis to win three gold medals at the Rome Olympics. Congratulations, Lance - you are an inspiration to us all on the power of the human spirit.
John Lewis, Finland

What an incredible achievement to come back from the edge of death - not only to get on a bike a bike again, but to do so as a tougher man, both mentally and physically, and emerge victorious in an event which can only be described as one of the most demanding and testing in sport. Say no more.
Alistair Caldicott, UK


A true champion if ever there was one in any sport
  Jon B, Sweden
Lance is the rider of the moment and I really admire the way he races. In pure racing terms he is a long way from Merckx and a long way behind Coppi & Hinault. His story though is without parallel and he should have some good years ahead of him to close the gap on these giants. No one will do what Merckx did. Even Merckx himself, if he were racing today could not approach these heights for racing has changed. Let's stop putting Indurain in the same category as the afore-mentioned. With all due respect he gave us some pretty dull racing against weak competition. I would place others above him: Van Looy, Bartali, Bobet and Lemond (he passed Hinault in '86).
Douglas Grimm, United States

I think Lance Armstrong has proved to be one the greatest athletes to come out of the twentieth century. I know everyone is dazzled by his Tour de France performances, but Lance has proved himself in other races too. He has proved himself in classics like the San Sebastion and the World Championships, which he won at the age of 21 in 1994, which was before his illness. It's a shame very few people knew of him before 1999's TdF victory, since he was a fantastic rider to watch before then. I have seen him racing live (up Holm Moss in the Tour of Britain -1997) and his awe-inspiring lead up this climb sent the crowd crazy. A true champion if ever there was one in any sport!
Jon B, Sweden


Lance Armstrong has attained a level of achievement that transcends his chosen sport
  Jason O'Connell, United States
Lance is a great athlete and exceptional cyclist. His return to competitive cycling after battling cancer makes him in a class of his own. I'd compare him to Greg Lemond but would wait to compare him to Eddy Merckx. My only disappointment is he didn't get a stage win.
Bill Horst, USA

Lance Armstrong has attained a level of achievement that transcends his chosen sport. Remember, he was written off for dead. I'm sure this TDF will be his most poignant win because he dusted Pantani and Ullrich in the face of criticisms that his win was "tainted" by their absence last year. Bravo, Lance.
Jason O'Connell, United States

The way he has climbed on this tour, bar the Joux-Plane on stage 16, has been a revelation and proves his class, and I think he can be granted a small bad patch in a three-week race. Whilst he is not yet alongside the other Tour greats yet, he most definitely has the potential to achieve his place alongside the greats. It may go without saying, but we must not forgot the years he lost in racing due to his illness. The fact that the recovery was remarkable is beyond question, and the fact he won the Tour last year is equally remarkable, but we all know that to defend a title is much harder than to win it the first time.
Ben Pickford, England

He's the best of all time. Did any of the others face Lance's tribulations?
Michael Wille, USA


Even if he never wins another race his place in cycling history is assured
  Ronnie, England
Having followed Lance's rise since his early days in triathlon, it's obvious that his athleticism is tremendous. I feel that he will achieve maybe one or two more wins in the tour. Whatever happens in the future, his own personal battles and triumphs will prove inspirational to many people.
Raymond, England

In terms of human triumph he probably has no equal at this time. As for dominance of the Tour, he has not yet had the opportunity to fully make his mark.
Alec, USA

Lance does indeed deserve to be ranked among the greats - after his miraculous comeback from life threatening cancer he has already won one Tour and is looking good for another. Even if he never wins another race his place in cycling history is assured. He may not have won as many tours as Big Mig or Merckx but neither of those guys came back from death's door as Lance did!
Ronnie, England


Armstrong has clearly been the strongest cyclist in the world for the past two years and he's still relatively young. My guess is he'll win four or five Tours
  Charles, USA
The Tour de France is the ultimate test for a cyclist. I firmly expect Armstrong to win at least the next 2 Tours. The man has a will of iron and he is still young enough to become an all time great. Out of the current generation of cyclists only Jan Ullrich compares with Armstrong but Super Lance is more dedicated and he will be the next great after Indurain.
James Steggles, UK

If you want to use a golf analogy try comparing Armstrong to Tiger Woods. Armstrong has clearly been the strongest cyclist in the world for the past two years and he's still relatively young. My guess is he'll win four or five Tours and a couple more world championships. That would easily put him in the same category as Indurain and Hinault.
Charles, USA

Lance has already stated that it's a new era, thus making it impossible to win five tours. However, Lance has proved that he is a great champion and that last year was not a fluke. What is also important is that all of the retired great riders support Lance at his benefit ride, Ride for the Roses, and obviously have enormous respect for probably the best rider today.
Ross Heupel, USA


If Armstrong wins a few more Tours, there is no question this debate will have to be revisited and the list of greatest cyclists expanded to include another name
  Saeed, USA
Cyclists like Indurain and Merckx, to name just two of the greats, had a certain aura of invincibility around them that one does not detect with Armstrong. On the other hand he seems more human and more vulnerable. He has an incredible heart and amazing will power. You can see it, feel it pumping in his chest. It is going to be very interesting over the next couple of years to see the expression of that will on the Tour de France. He has us in the palm of his hand. If he keeps this up he'll be even greater than the five time winners of the past.
Paul Skillicorn, Australia

Lance possesses extraordinary talent, but his win against cancer may have diminished his physical capacity to some degree. Greg LeMond was never the same after his hunting accident. I thought Greg could have been the first to win 6 Tours, but he was never 100% after the accident. Lance is a large guy for a cyclist and can withstand cold weather more so than Ulrich or Pantani, and for him to win 5 Tours he needs days like Stage 10.
James, Mars

I think that you have to give up an awful lot to be in the position to win 5 tours. I don't think that Lance is willing to do that, though I would like to see it happen.
Mike Ramsey, USA

I think Lance Armstrong is a great cyclist and he has overcome incredible odds to rise to the top of his sport. I think it is still premature to compare him in the same league as Indurain and Merckx. If Armstrong wins a few more Tours, there is no question this debate will have to be revisited and the list of greatest cyclists expanded to include another name.
Saeed, USA


I think it is still premature to compare him in the same league as Indurain and Merckx
  Saeed, USA
Lance Armstrong is not at the level of the super Tour de France winners who won five times. He is a great rider and superb athlete and if he continues to win, say, next two years, then we can start to compare him to the 'great ones'.
J D Brown, USA

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17 Jul 00 |  Other Sports
Armstrong asks for balance
28 Jun 00 |  Tour de France
Five Tour greats
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