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  Lance Armstrong    

Picture courtesy of www.1.im.cz
Americaís Lance Armstrong was born on September 18, 1971. He turned pro after the Olympics in 1992.

Prior to October 2, 1996, Lance was an accomplished rider who could win one-day classics and smaller stage races. He won the 1993 World Championship Road Race at age 21.

Two years later, Lance was the first American to win a major classics race, the 1995 San Sebastian Classic in Spain. In the spring of 1996, he became the first American to win the Fleche Wallone Classic in Belgium.

Lanceís career had progressed quite nicely. In addition to stage wins in the Tour de France, he won other important stage races in Europe. In 1996, his star was rising, despite rising physical stress, nagging tiredness, and miscellaneous pains.

On October, 2, 1996, it was discovered that Lance had advanced testicular cancer that had spread to his brain and lungs. The cancer was spreading rapidly and Lance went to emergency surgery to remove the tumors.

The doctors got the cancer just in time to save Lanceís life. After aggressive chemotherapy, all the cancer was killed.

After months of recuperation, it was apparent that Lance would not only survive, but be able to function as a physically-active person.

After contemplating what kind of life he should lead, he decided that a return to racing would signify that he had beat the cancer.

Upon returning to peloton, Lance searched for another goal. Through consultations with friends, coaches and other athletes, he decided that a return to the Tour de France would be his next goal.

Before the cancer, Lance was a powerful rider who had a build more similar to an American football player than a bicycle racer.

After the cancer, however, his body dropped most of its muscle mass. Through training, Armstrong further streamlined his body and rebuilt himself into a Tour de France contender. His weight after the rebuild was 15 pounds (7 kg) less than his racing weight prior to the cancer.

The muscles in Lanceís upper body didnít get rebuilt to the same level as before. This allowed Lance to ride the high mountains with the climbing specialists.

Lance was always a good time-trialer, but after the rebuilding, he was even better. On top of that, he had already suffered more physical pain than most people could ever dream of.

Armstrong won seven consecutive editions of the Tour de France, from 1999 through 2005. He was also 3rd in 2009.

Unfortunately, Armstrong was deemed to have doped since August 1, 1998, and all results have been annulled by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

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Picture courtesy of www.davelawrence.co.uk

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