|Lance Edward Armstrong
(from Maillot Jaune, French for Yellow jersey)
|Date of birth
|September 18, 1971 (1971-09-18)
|1.77 m (5 ft 9
|1993: 79 kg (174 lb)
1999: 74 kg (163 lb)
US National Team
U.S. Postal / Discovery Channel
| Tour de France (1999–2005), 22 stages
World Cycling Champion (1993)
US National Cycling Champion (1993)
Clásica de San Sebastián (1995)
La Flèche Wallonne (1996)
|Infobox last updated on:
|June 14, 2007
Lance Armstrong (born Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18, 1971) is a retired American professional road racing cyclist. He won the Tour de France—cycling's most prestigious race—seven consecutive times, from 1999 to 2005. In doing so, he beat the previous records of five wins by Miguel Indurain (consecutive) and Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Jacques Anquetil. Previous to this achievement he also survived testicular cancer, a germ cell tumor that metastasized to his brain and lungs in 1996. His cancer treatments included brain and testicular surgery, and extensive chemotherapy.
In 1999, he was named ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year. In 2002, Sports Illustrated magazine named him Sportsman of the Year. He was also named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005. He received ESPN's ESPY Award for Best Male Athlete in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006, and won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award in 2003. Armstrong retired from racing on July 24, 2005, at the end of the 2005 Tour de France.
Armstrong's athletic success and dramatic recovery from cancer inspired him to commemorate his accomplishments, with Nike, through the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a charity founded in 1997. The foundation's yellow rubber "Livestrong" wristbands, first launched in 2004, have been a major success, netting the foundation more than $60 million dollars in the fight against cancer, while helping Armstrong become a major player in the nonprofit sector.
|Competitor for United States
It soon became clear that his greatest talent was as a bicycle racer after competing as a cycling amateur, winning the U.S. amateur championship in 1991 and, with the help of teammates Bob Mionske and Timm Peddie, finishing 14th in the 1992 Summer Olympics.
In 1993, Armstrong finished the year ranked number one by capturing 10 one-day events and stage races, including becoming one of the youngest-ever riders to win the world road race championship, his first stage win at the Tour de France, and collecting the Thrift Drug "Triple Crown of Cycling", which included three separate races: the Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh, the K-Mart West Virginia Classic, and the CoreStates USPRO National Championship in Philadelphia. Thrift Drug said it would award $1 million to any rider winning all 3 races, which had never been done. At the CoreStates USPRO Championship race, on the final lap circuit, he sat up on his bicycle, took out a comb, combed his hair and smiled for the cameras.
On October 2, 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with nonseminomatous testicular cancer. The cancer had already spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. The standard chemotherapeutic regimen for Armstrong's type of cancer is known as BEP (Bleomycin, Etoposide and Cisplatin (or Platinol)). Armstrong, however, chose to undergo an alternative regimen, VIP (vinblastine, ifosfamide and Cisplatin), in order to avoid the lung toxicity associated with the drug Bleomycin Armstrong underwent surgery on his brain tumors, which were found to be necrotic, and an orchiectomy to remove his diseased testicle.
Tour de France success
Before his cancer diagnosis and treatments, Lance Armstrong had won two Tour de France stages. In 1993, he won the 8th stage of the Tour, and in 1995, he took stage 18 in honour of teammate Fabio Casartelli who crashed and died on stage 15.
Armstrong dropped out of the 1996 Tour De France in the 7th stage after becoming ill; this was just a few months prior to his diagnosis with cancer.
Armstrong's cycling comeback began in 1998 when he finished fourth in the Vuelta a España. In 1999 he became a household name with his first Tour de France win, which included 4 stage wins. He beat the second place rider, Alex Zülle, by a margin of 7 minutes 37 seconds. However, the absence of Jan Ullrich (injury) and Marco Pantani (following drug misuse allegations) meant that Armstrong had not yet proven himself against the biggest names in cycling. Stage wins included the Prologue, stage 8, an individual time trial in Metz, an Alpine mountain stage win on stage 9, and the second individual time trial on stage 19.
In 2000, Ullrich and Pantani returned to challenge Armstrong. A race that began a six year rivalry between Ullrich and Armstrong ended in victory for Armstrong by a margin of 6 minutes 2 seconds over Ullrich. Armstrong took one stage win in the 2000 Tour by winning the second Individual time trial on stage 19.
In 2001, Armstrong again took top honors, beating Ullrich by 6 minutes 44 seconds.
In 2002, Ullrich did not participate and Armstrong won with a 7 minute lead over Joseba Beloki.
The familiar pattern returned in 2003, with Armstrong taking first place and Ullrich taking second place. Only 1 minute 1 second separated the two at the end of the final day in Paris. U.S. Postal won the Team Time Trial on Stage 4, while Armstrong took stage 15, despite being knocked off his bike on the ascent to Luz Ardiden, the day's final climb, when a spectator's bag caught his right handlebar. Ullrich waited for him, which brought Ullrich several Fair-play honors.
In 2004, Armstrong again beat a German cyclist into second place. However, this time it was Andreas Klöden, finishing 6 minutes 19 seconds behind the winner. Ullrich finished in fourth, a further 2 minutes 31 seconds behind. Armstrong won a personal best 5 individual stages, plus the team time trial. He became the first man since Gino Bartali in 1948 to win three consecutive mountain stages; 15, 16, and 17. The individual time trial on stage 16 up L'Alpe d'Huez was won in considerable style by Armstrong as he passed Ivan Basso on the way up the epic climb, despite setting out 2 minutes after the Italian. He won sprint finishes from Basso in stages 13 and 15 and made up a significant gap in the last 250 meters to nip Klöden at the line in stage 17. He won the final individual time trial, stage 19, to complete his personal record of stage wins.
In his final tour in 2005, completing his record breaking feat, Armstrong crossed the finishing line on the Champs-Élysées on July 24 to win his 7th consecutive Tour de France title, finishing 4 minutes 40 seconds ahead of Ivan Basso, with Jan Ullrich occupying the 3rd space on the podium. He looked strong from the beginning of the tour, losing out on the Stage 1 time trial by only two seconds while passing his old rival, Jan Ullrich, on the road. His Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team won the team time trial, while Armstrong won one individual stage, the final individual time trial.
In addition to his 7 Tour de France wins, Armstrong has won 22 individual stages, 11 time trials, and his team has won the team time trial on 3 occasions.
Reasons for success
Many have discussed the reasons for Armstrong's success in winning seven Tours in a row. No single factor seems to be responsible, but rather a combination of the following:
Training methodology and preparation
He trained in Spain for months leading up to the Tour de France and made frequent trips to France to fully analyze and ride key parts of the upcoming Tour de France course. Since he focused solely on the Tour de France and seldom competed in other major races, he was able to train 180 days per year for the 23 days of the Tour, a significantly greater training time than riders who compete in other races.
Armstrong met former elite cyclist Chris Carmichael in 1990 and worked with him as his coach through all of his years at the Tour De France competitions.
The team's sports director, Belgian ex-cyclist Johan Bruyneel, was involved in all of Armstrong's victories. The Italian coach Michele Ferrari has also coached and advised Armstrong.
Armstrong has a high lactate threshold and can maintain a higher cadence (often 120 rpm) in a lower gear than his competitors, most noticeably in the time trials. This style is in direct contrast to previous champions (e.g., Jan Ullrich and Greg LeMond) who used a high gear and brute strength to win time trials. It is believed that a high cadence results in less fatigue in the leg muscles than a lower cadence requiring more severe leg muscle contractions. Ultimately the cardiovascular system is worked to a greater extent with a high cadence than with a lower, more muscular cadence. Because the leg muscles are taxed less with a high cadence pedaling style, they recover faster, and the efforts can be sustained for longer periods of time. Armstrong dedicated a significant portion of his training to developing and maintaining a high cadence style.
He is near but not at the top aerobically, having a VO2 Max of 83.8 mL/kg/min — much higher than the average person (40-50) but not as high as that of some other elite cyclists, such as Miguel Indurain (88.0, although reports exist that Indurain tested at 92-94) or Greg LeMond (92.5). His heart is 30% larger than average; however, an enlarged heart is a common trait for many other athletes. He has a resting heart rate of 32-34 beats per minute with a max heart rate at 201 bpm. Armstrong's most unusual attribute may be his low lactate levels. During intense training, the levels of most racers range from 12 μL/kg to as much as 20 μL/kg; Armstrong is below 6 μL/kg. The result is that less lactic acid accumulates in Armstrong's system, therefore it is possible that he feels less fatigue from severe efforts, and this may contribute to his ability to sustain the same level of physical effort as other elite racers with less fatigue and faster recovery times. Some theorize that his high pedaling cadence is designed to take advantage of this low lactate level. In contrast, other cyclists — like Jan Ullrich — rely on their anaerobic capacity, pushing a larger gear at a lower rate. Further improvements in Armstrong's physical attributes and performance have been attributed to training-induced increases in his muscular efficiency indicating changes in muscle myosin type.
Strength of his team
Some have attributed Armstrong's success in recent years in part to his US Postal Service cycling team (in 2005, the Discovery Channel Team). Throughout his wins in the Tour de France, Lance slowly built up the strength of his team. In his first few Tour victories, his team was not considered exceptionally strong. Yet it is evident by the wins of his team in the Team Time Trial in his last three Tour de France victories that they were one of the most dominating teams in the Pro Tour Circuit. While the U.S. Postal Team competes in races worldwide, the riders were selected specifically to help Armstrong win the yellow jersey. In this way, the team's single-minded approach can be contrasted with other teams. For example, Jan Ullrich's T-Mobile team, as well as supporting Ullrich in the general classification, also had an eye for many years on the outcome of the points competition, which their sprinter Erik Zabel won for six consecutive years. However, the decisive moves in which he gained large leads over the competition involved Armstrong racing far ahead of his team, and Armstrong often fended off multiple attacks when his team faltered and he was isolated unexpectedly.
Support of broader team
Armstrong revolutionized the support behind his well-funded teams, asking his sponsors and equipment suppliers to contribute and act as one cohesive part of the team. For example, rather than having the bike frame, handlebars, and tires of a bicycle designed and developed by separate companies with little interaction with each other, his teams adopted a Formula 1-style relationship with sponsors and suppliers, taking full advantage of the combined resources of several organizations working in close communication. The team, comprised of Trek, Nike, AMD, Bontrager (a Trek-owned company), Shimano, Giro and Oakley, collaborated for a well-coordinated and technologically cutting-edge array of products. The approach has since become the standard in the professional cycling industry.
Allegations of drug use
The sport of professional cycling has a reputation for doping—the use of performance enhancing drugs—with prominent individuals and in some cases entire teams being disqualified. Armstrong has continually denied having used performance-enhancing drugs and has described himself as "the most tested athlete in the world". Throughout his career only one test showed indications of the presence of doping products: in 1999, a urine sample showed traces of corticosteroids, but the amount was not in the positive test range. He later produced a medical certificate showing he used an approved cream for saddle sores which contained the substance.
In October 2005, in response to calls from the International Olympic Committee and the World Anti-Doping Agency ("WADA") for an independent investigation, UCI appointed Dutch lawyer Emile Vrijman to conduct an independent investigation of the handling of urine tests by the French national anti-doping laboratory, LNDD. Vrijman was the head of the Dutch anti-doping agency for ten years; since then he has worked as a defense attorney defending high-profile athletes against doping charges. Vrijman's report "cleared" Armstrong because of improper handling and testing. The report said that tests on urine samples were conducted improperly and fell so short of scientific standards that it was "completely irresponsible" to suggest they "constitute evidence of anything." The recommendation of the commission's report was that no disciplinary action should be taken against any rider on the basis of the LNDD research. It also called upon the WADA and LNDD to submit themselves to an investigation by an outside independent authority. The WADA rejected these conclusions. The IOC Ethics Commission subsequently censured Dick Pound, the President of WADA and a member of the IOC, for his statements in the media that suggested wrongdoing by Armstrong.
Family and personal life
Armstrong was born in Plano, Texas to Linda Gayle Mooneyham and Eddie Charles Gunderson; his mother re-married to Terry Keith Armstrong, who adopted him, in 1974. He was named after Lance Rentzel, a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. His father left his mother when Lance was two years old. Linda has been married and divorced four times. Lance has since refused to meet his birth father and has also considered his stepfather deceitful.
Armstrong met his wife, Kristin Richard (Kik), in June 1997. They were married on May 8, 1998, and had three children: Luke, born in October 1999, and twins Isabelle and Grace, born in November 2001. The couple filed for divorce in September 2003. Kristin Armstrong cited several reasons for the dissolution of their marriage, including her husband's rapid rise to celebrity, his comeback from cancer, and their constant movement between multiple homes in different countries.
Armstrong began dating singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow some time in the autumn of 2003 and publicly revealed their relationship in January 2004. The couple announced their engagement in September 2005 and their split in February 2006. According to Men's Journal's July 2006 cover story, Armstrong had struggled to grapple with Crow's breast cancer diagnosis on February 20, 2006, but, after talking almost daily for a while, they have again gone separate ways. "I still think about her every day. Primarily now because of her health and hoping that everything works out. And I'm fully confident that it will," he said.
Armstrong owns a house in Austin, Texas, as well as a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Neighbors of his ranch property claim that Armstrong inadvertently polluted a local swimming hole when he was creating a dam on his ranch. One neighboring family says the problem has existed for two years and that "you only have so much patience". Armstrong says he is investigating the best way to fix the problem.
Lance Armstrong appeared as himself in the 2004 movie Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story and in the 2006 movie You, Me, and Dupree where he is depicted as Randy Dupree's role model.
He hosted the ESPY Awards in 2006.
Since retirement, Armstrong has focused his efforts on the Lance Armstrong Foundation and other interests. He was the pace car driver of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for the 2006 Indianapolis 500.
Armstrong remains physically active and continues to train for cycling and running events, such as the 2006 and 2007 New York City Marathon and the 2006 and 2007 RAGBRAI.
After his retirement, he continued to stay fit and decided to run the New York City Marathon. Together with Nike, he assembled a pace team consisting of well known runners Alberto Salazar, Joan Benoit Samuelson, and Hicham El Guerrouj to help him reach his goal time of 3 hours. He struggled with shin splints and was on pace for a little above 3 hours but pushed through the last 5 miles to come through at 2:59:36, finishing 856th. He commented that the race was extremely difficult, even when compared to competing in the Tour de France. "For the level of condition that I have now, that was without a doubt the hardest physical thing I have ever done. I never felt a point where I hit the wall. It was really a gradual progression of fatigue and soreness." The NYC Marathon had a dedicated camera on Armstrong throughout the event. This camera, according to Armstrong, pushed him to continue without stop through points in which he would have normally "stopped and stretched." He also helped raise $600,000 for his LiveStrong campaign during the run.
Lance Armstrong has stated that despite the difficulty he had in the 2006 race, he would like to do the race again in 2007. On February 12, 2007, Armstrong officially announced his decision to enter the November 4, 2007, ING New York City Marathon.
In an interview with the New York Times, teammate George Hincapie hinted at Armstrong possibly running for Governor of Texas after retiring from cycling. In the July 2005 issue of Outside magazine , Armstrong hinted at possibly running for governor, although "not in '06." Armstrong and President George W. Bush, a Republican and fellow Texan, call themselves friends. President Bush called Armstrong in France after his 2005 victory to congratulate him, and in August 2005, The Times (Can this bike ride be Bush's tour de force?) reported the President had invited Armstrong to his Prairie Chapel Ranch to go mountain biking.
In August 2005, Armstrong has hinted that he has changed his mind about possibly entering politics. In an interview with Charlie Rose, that aired on PBS on August 1, 2005, Armstrong pointed out that running for governor would require the type of time commitments that caused him to decide to retire from cycling. Again on August 16, 2005, Armstrong told a local Austin CBS affiliate  that he is no longer considering politics. "The biggest problem with politics or running for the governor—the governor's race here in Austin or in Texas—is that it would mimic exactly what I've done: a ton of stress and a ton of time away from my kids. Why would I want to go from pro cycling, which is stressful and a lot of time away, straight into politics?"
In 2006, Armstrong began to clarify that he intends to be involved in politics as an activist for change in cancer policies. In a May 2006 interview with Sports Illustrated, Armstrong is quoted as saying "I need to run for one office, the presidency of the Cancer Fighters' Union of the World." Sports Illustrated also quotes Armstrong as saying that he fears halving his influence with legislators if he chooses one side in American partisan politics. His foundation is becoming more involved in lobbying on behalf of cancer patients before Congress, and Armstrong has said that he hopes to model his efforts in the area of cancer in much the same manner as U2's Bono has done on behalf of poverty, AIDS, and hunger.
Teams and victories
Amateur cycling and triathlon years