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Lance Armstrong survives cancer and Tour de France



Published: Wed, August 7, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



In the world of competitive cycling, the color yellow is not suggestive of cowardice but rather signifies the capability of the leading racer. And when that leader is Lance Armstrong, the yellow jersey that he wears also celebrates courage -- the kind of courage that beats cancer as well as besting the field four years in a row in the world's most grueling road races.

Armstrong is only 30 now, but six years ago, when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, doctors gave him just a 50-50 chance of surviving. He beat the odds then, and he has continued to beat the competition in the demanding Tour de France.

Bicycle races typically range from 50 km. to 100 km. -- that's about 31 miles and 62 miles. Some might even go to 500 km. (310 miles). But the Tour de France lasts three weeks, and this year covered 2,032 miles in 20 stages over flat land, hills, valleys and the French Alps. It's clearly an event for the strong of leg, lungs and heart.

But as much as bicycling is an individual sport, it is also a team sport. In fact, after this year's Tour, Armstrong said, "The first (win) was the comeback, the second one confirmation, the third a really good time, and this year was the year of the team," a tribute to the eight other members of the U.S. Postal Service-sponsored team: fellow Americans George Hincapie and Floyd Landis, Spain's Roberto Heras and Jos & eacute; Luis Rubiera, Colombia's Victor Hugo Pe & ntilde;a, Viatcheslav Ekimov of Russia, Czech Pavel Padrnos and Luxembourg's Beno & icirc;t Joachim.

'All-American' team

Notwithstanding the international roster, Armstrong's is an American team whose members provided the necessary protection for their leader during the race and defended him off the course against totally unwarranted French charges of doping.

Apparently the French can't stand to give an American athlete credit for being the strongest and the best on their own turf.

Never mind. The proof of Armstrong's greatness is in his non-stop training and in his victories. In recognition of his most important victory, the cancer survivor established the Lance Armstrong Foundation to enhance the quality of life for those living with, through, and beyond cancer. The foundation has already given more than $3 million to meeting that goal.

Athletically and philanthropically, Armstrong is a true winner.




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