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DateLine Sunday, 19 August 2007

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Lance Armstrong:

A living legend

This has been a season of cycling when looking at the world at large. And so, we thought of bringing you some information about a great sportsman in this field in today's edition of Sports track.

When the recent history of the Tour de France as well as cycling at world level is taken into consideration, Lance Armstrong is one of the key figures worthy of mention. Being an American, he has brought much pride to his country as the winner of the Tour de France from 1999 to 2005, the World Cycling Champion in 1993 and the US National Cycling Champion, again in 1993.

He is known as an all-rounder cyclist, and is nicknamed Mellow Johnny. In 1999, he was named ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year and in 2002, Sports Illustrated magazine named him Sportsman of the Year. He has also been named Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year for 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005.

He has 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.

The most important thing about the victories of this glamorous man is that he made all his latest achievements while suffering from cancer. In 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed with nonseminomatous testicular cancer, which was at stage three, which had already spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. But, his courage made him start winning the Tour de France just three years after this diagnosis.

He has never let the cancer beat him and make him leave his sport. Many have discussed the reasons for Armstrong's success in winning seven Tours in a row and it has been found that it was a combination of proper practice, good coaching, strength in his body and dedication.

This sportsman is surely someone that you as children could draw inspiration from. Since his retirement, Armstrong has focused his efforts on the Lance Armstrong Foundation. He was the pace car driver of the Chevrolet Corvette Z06 for the 2006 Indianapolis 500.

He is still 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 (Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa).


Tour de France - A wrap-up

The greatest cycle tour of the world, 'Tour de France' which took place from July 7 to July 29 has ended, marking yet another memorable annual venture of the tour. The Tour began in London, and ended with the traditional finish in Paris. The route also passed through Belgium and Spain.

With all the interesting happenings, the tour had an exciting end. The yellow jersey, given to the overall leader, was not decided until the final time trial on Stage 19.

The top three riders, Alberto Contador in yellow, Cadel Evans in second, and Levi Leipheimer in third, were separated by just 2 minutes and 49 seconds. Both Evans and Leipheimer have been known as better time trialists to Contador. However, in the end, each rider had remained in their places after the final time trial, but with smaller margins.

Finally, the Tour ended with the smallest-ever range of only 31 seconds among the top three riders. Alberto Contador became the overall winner of the tour, and he also won the white jersey for the best young rider.

The green jersey, given to the best sprinter, was won for the first time by Tom Boonen and the polka dot jersey, given to the best mountain climber was won by Mauricio Soler, who was taking part in the event for the first time. There have been some issues regarding a few cyclists using performance enhancing drugs.

One interesting issue has been that Michael Rasmussen, who was racing in first place as the overall leader, was fired by his team for violating team rules which eased work for Alberto to climb up to the first place.


Alberto Contador - The newest star

The 25-year-old Alberto Contador from Spain became the proud winner of the Tour de France 2007 by a hairline margin. He is quite new to the cycling arena.

His Stage 5 victory in the 2005 Tour Down Under, is considered to be a great achievement. This was his first win after overcoming a massive blood clot in his brain, for which he underwent a risky surgery and a long, painful path to recovery to get back on his bike.

The blood clot had been discovered after he crashed and went into a fit during the first stage of the 2004 Vuelta a Asturias. His professional level victory came with the 2007 Paris-Nice, which he won in dramatic fashion on the race's final stage. He is believed to be a cyclist who is showing bright prospects of becoming yet another Lance Armstrong.

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