The life and career of Lance Armstrong is quite extraordinary. Lance has won the Tour De France, the toughest and most prestigious cycling event for 7 consecutive years 1999 -2005. What makes this record even more remarkable is his well documented recovery from a near fatal attack of cancer. Lance recovered from this painful experience to become, against all expectations the most successful cyclist of his generation.
Lance was brought up by his Mother in Plano, Texas (his father left his mother at an early age). In his early years Lance was a very successful triathalete and would spend many hours training on his bike in the pool and running.However after training with the US Olympic development squad Lance concentrated on cycling. His rise in the amateur ranks appeared effortless, and Lance qualified for the junior world championships in Moscow in 1989. By 1991 he was the U.S. National Amateur Champion and soon after turned professional. In his pre cancer days Lance Armstrong was mainly known as a fearsome one day racer. His crowning moment of triumph came in the 1993 World Championship Race in a rain sodden Helsinki. Lance survived the numerous crashes of the race and hung on to win becoming the first American World Champion. Lance started the 1996 year ranked number 1 cyclist in the World.
However during that year of Lance felt his performance unexpectedly drop for no apparent reason. After many tests Lance was diagnosed with having a form of prostrate cancer and was given a 40% of recovery. After a prolonged and painful process of chemotherapy Lance managed to overcome the cancer and slowly came back to health. Lance wanted to revive his cycling career but perhaps not unexpectedly the top teams were unwilling to take a risk.
However Lance was given a break by the US postal team, which proved to be a remarkably judicious decision. Therefore in 1998 Lance returned to the professional ranks, although he nearly quit after having to drop out of the Paris Nice Stage race in early spring. However Lance merely needed more time and by the start of the 1999 season was starting to show good form again. In fact the cancer meant Lance Armstrong had lost some weight on his upper body. This loss of muscle mass proved to be a blessing in disguise in the sense that Lance was now more competitive in the mountains. This often proved to be the decisive stage in his Tour victories.
Throughout his comeback Lance has been the subject to many accusations about drug taking. To be fair Lance has never failed a drugs test nor has any convincing evidence been produced. Many of this accusations stem from the fact Lance has become Cycling's first superstar, his career and private life have been subject to enormous scrutiny. Nevertheless it does remain the case that professional cycling has yet to prove it has a clean bill of health and some argue Lance was ill advised to use the controversial trainer, Michele Ferrarri. M.Ferrarri was recently convicted of sporting fraud for advising some clients to use performance enhancing drugs. However since his conviction Lance has dropped M. Ferrarri as a trainer.
Lance Armstrong is the first cyclist to win 6 Tour De France's beating legendary names such as Miguel Indurain, Jaques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx. Some argue however that Armstrong does not have a complete palmeres, apart from the Tour he has won relatively few races. Also compared to riders such as Merckx Lance races relatively few races, concentrating all his effort on the Tour. However cycling has changed with an influx of riders from new countries, more money e.t.c. It has become much more competitive and much more difficult to be in contention for races all year round. The Tour remains the most lucrative and prestigious event, to win it 7 consecutive times could be one of sport's greatest achievements let alone cycling's greatest achievements.
As well as cycling Lance Armstrong [http://cyclinginfo.co.uk/cyclists/us/lance-armstrong-biography/] is active in promoting his charitable trust The Lance Armstrong Foundation which helps raise money for cancer. The yellow wrist band "Live Strong" have proved remarkably popular starting many similar wristbands. Since retiring from cycling Lance Armstrong ran the New York marathon on Nov 5th 2006. His finishing time 2 hours, 59 minutes and 36 seconds. In the last half of the race he said he suffered alot saying:
"I think I bit off more than I could chew, I thought the marathon would be easier,"
It is likely Lance will continue to look for new challenges and will probably try to improve on this time.
More: Biographies of cyclists
Tejvan Pettinger. Tejvan is a member of Sri Chinmoy Cycling Team and regularly races in British Time Trials. He finished 4th in the National 100 Mile Time Trial championship 2005
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