Lance Armstrong wins Tour de France for seventh time

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Tour de France logo

United States sportsman Lance Armstrong today won the international cycling competition Tour de France. This is the seventh consecutive win for Armstrong. It is also his last, as Armstrong announced prior to the race that he will be retiring from professional cycling after the competition.

The last leg was an 89.8-mile strecth from Corbeil-Essonnes to Paris' famed Champs-Elysees. But poor weather conditions affected the finale.

The official race time clock was stopped when the riders reached the Champs Elysee due to rain making the famous cobble stones slippery. However, the rain stopped and the stones dried during the eight final laps of the famous road, and time-bonuses were awarded for the stage win.

Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, riding for T-Mobile, won the stage after his break-away from the field 1,500m out could not be reeled in by the peloton, relegating the sprinters to lower placings. The 20s time bonus moved Vinokurov to fifth overall in the race.

As Armstrong was presented the final Yellow Jersey, he was quoted in the press as saying in a mixture of French and English, "Vive le Tour, forever." The winning Yellow Jersey is awarded to the cyclist who had the best overall performance throughout the tour's circuit.

After the awards ceremony, Armstrong discussed what comes next in his life, mentioning that defeating cancer by raising awareness and funds is his new goal.

"We know how to train and prepare for the Tour," he says. "If we win, it is a success. Cancer is not and will not be that way. It is a different kind of fight. It's not something that lasts three weeks.

"Along the way there will be victories and defeats. There are going to be survivors and people who aren't going to make it. My goal and my responsibility is to make sure that we don't forget ... how devastating cancer has been. I can help change that."

"I sit here as a person who considers myself totally cured," he says. "But one of those people who was along the side of the road over the last three weeks might have breast cancer and might die in three months.

"How can they not be cured? The illness is complicated; there are hundreds of different illnesses and cell types, little bastards inside who don't agree with what we throw at them, who don't want to die."

Armstrong has been a member of the President's Cancer Panel since 2002. He feels that his role is to get the funds to keep that research alive, saying that "we have the smartest people in the world" already working on cures.

"Funding is tough to come by these days," he says. "The biggest downside to a war in Iraq is what you could do with that money. What does a war in Iraq cost a week? A billion? Maybe a billion a day? The budget for the National Cancer Institute is four billion. That has to change. It needs to become a priority again.

"Polls say people are much more afraid of cancer than of a plane flying into their house or a bomb or any other form of terrorism. It is a priority for the American public."