Lance Armstrong

November 25, 2012 5:43 am

aIn his first professional bicycle race, Lance Armstrong finished dead last. He could have been discouraged, but instead he worked harder. In his next race, Armstrong took second place. It’s typical that Armstrong rose to the challenge. He’s done that throughout his cycling career.
Armstrong faced the most difficult challenge of his life when medical tests showed he had a deadly form of cancer. Armstrong overcame cancer to become one of cycling’s greatest stars. He went on to win the Tour de France—the world’s most famous and difficult bicycle race—more times than any other rider.
Lance Armstrong was born in 1971 in Plano, Texas. As a teenager, he competed in triathlons. A triathlon is a race where participants must swim, run, and bicycle. He won many races and became a professional triathlete when he was just 16 years old.
Toward the end of high school, Armstrong began to focus on cycling alone. In 1990, he joined the United States national cycling team. Armstrong soon became one of the world’s top-ranked amateur racers.
Armstrong decided to become a professional cyclist in 1992. One year later, he became the youngest rider to ever win the World Cycling Championships. His racing successes continued. By 1996, Armstrong was the number-one ranked cyclist in the world.
In October 1996, Armstrong received some startling news that changed his life. Doctors had found cancer in Armstrong’s lungs and brain. They gave him no more than a 50 percent chance of surviving.
Armstrong had surgery to remove the cancer. Then he underwent chemotherapy, a way of treating cancer by putting strong chemicals in the body. Chemotherapy helped Armstrong fight the cancer, but it made him very weak and sick.
Armstrong battled back. One year later, Armstrong was cancer-free. He began to train again on his bicycle. In 1998, Armstrong returned to racing and won a number of events. It was a stunning comeback. But the best was yet to come.
In 1999, Armstrong shocked the cycling world by winning the Tour de France. The Tour de France is one of the most demanding of all sporting events. Each summer, the world’s best riders cycle through the European countryside in a series of races, or stages. The Tour de France covers about 2,000 miles (3,500 kilometers) and lasts about one month.
Armstrong’s surprising victory made him just the second American, after Greg LeMond, to win the famous race. But for Armstrong, it was just the beginning.
After 1999, Armstrong continued to dominate in the Tour de France. In 2004, he won the race for the sixth time in a row. In doing so, Armstrong made history by becoming the only rider to win the Tour de France more than five times. After winning the race for a seventh time in 2005, Armstrong said he planned to retire from cycling. Today, many people consider Armstrong the greatest cyclist ever.
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