At 52 years old, Lance Armstrong has this physical status:
At the age of 12, Armstrong started his sporting career as a swimmer at the City of Plano Swim Club and finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle. He stopped swimming-only races after seeing a poster for a junior triathlon, called the Iron Kids Triathlon, which he won at age 13.
In the 1987–1988 Tri-Fed/Texas ("Tri-Fed" was the former name of USA Triathlon), Armstrong was ranked the number-one triathlete in the 19-and-under group; second place was Chann McRae, who became a US Postal Service cycling teammate and the 2002 USPRO national champion. Armstrong's total points in 1987 as an amateur were better than those of five professionals ranked higher than he was that year. At 16, Lance Armstrong became a professional triathlete and became national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at 18 and 19, respectively.
In 1992, Armstrong turned professional with the Motorola Cycling Team, the successor of 7-Eleven team. In 1993, Armstrong won 10 one-day events and stage races, but his breakthrough victory was the World Road Race Championship held in Norway. Before his World Championships win, he took his first win at the Tour de France, in the stage from Châlons-sur-Marne to Verdun. He was 97th in the general classification when he retired after stage 12. He collected the Thrift Drug Triple Crown of Cycling: the Thrift Drug Classic in Pittsburgh, the K-Mart West Virginia Classic, and the CoreStates USPRO national championship in Philadelphia. He is alleged by another cyclist competing in the CoreStates Road Race to have bribed that cyclist so that he would not compete with Armstrong for the win.
In 1994, he again won the Thrift Drug Classic and came second in the Tour DuPont in the United States. His successes in Europe occurred when he placed second in Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Clásica de San Sebastián, where just two years before, he had finished in last place at his first all-pro event in Europe. He finished the year strongly at the World Championships in Agrigento, finishing in 7th place less than a minute behind winner Luc Leblanc.
In a 2016 speech to University of Colorado, Boulder professor Roger A. Pielke Jr.'s Introduction to Sports Governance class, Armstrong stated he began doping in "late Spring of 1995".
He won the Clásica de San Sebastián in 1995, followed by an overall victory in the penultimate Tour DuPont and a handful of stage victories in Europe, including the stage to Limoges in the Tour de France, three days after the death of his teammate Fabio Casartelli, who crashed on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet on the 15th stage. After winning the stage, Armstrong pointed to the sky in honor of Casartelli.
Armstrong's successes were much the same in 1996. He became the first American to win the La Flèche Wallonne and again won the Tour DuPont. However, he was able to compete for only five days in the Tour de France. In the 1996 Olympic Games, he finished 6th in the time trial and 12th in the road race. In August 1996 following the Leeds Classic, Armstrong signed a 2-year, $2 million deal with the French Cofidis Cycling Team. Joining him in signing contracts with the French team were teammates Frankie Andreu and Laurent Madouas. Two months later, in October 1996, he was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer.
On October 2, 1996, at the age of 25, Armstrong was diagnosed with stage three (advanced) testicular cancer (embryonal carcinoma). The cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, lungs, brain, and abdomen. He visited urologist Jim Reeves in Austin, Texas, for diagnosis of his symptoms, including a headache, blurred vision, coughing up blood and a swollen testicle. On October 3, Armstrong had an orchiectomy to remove the diseased testicle. When Reeves was asked in a later interview what he thought Armstrong's chances of survival were, he said, "Almost none. We told Lance initially 20 to 50% chance, mainly to give him hope. But with the kind of cancer he had, with the x-rays, the blood tests, almost no hope."
After receiving a letter from Steven Wolff, an oncologist at Vanderbilt University, Armstrong went to the Indiana University medical center in Indianapolis and decided to receive the rest of his treatment there. The standard treatment for Armstrong's cancer was a "cocktail" of the drugs bleomycin, etoposide, and cisplatin (or Platinol) (BEP). The first chemotherapy cycle that Armstrong underwent included BEP, but for the three remaining cycles, he was given an alternative, vinblastine etoposide, ifosfamide, and cisplatin (VIP), to avoid lung toxicity associated with bleomycin. Armstrong credited this with saving his cycling career. At Indiana University, Lawrence Einhorn had pioneered the use of cisplatin to treat testicular cancer. Armstrong's primary oncologist there was Craig Nichols. On October 25, his brain lesions, which were found to contain extensive necrosis, were surgically removed by Scott A. Shapiro, a professor of neurosurgery at Indiana University.
Armstrong's final chemotherapy treatment took place on December 13, 1996. In January 1997, Armstrong unexpectedly appeared at the first training camp of the Cofidis team at Lille, riding 100 km (62 mi) with his new teammates before returning to the United States. In February 1997, he was declared cancer-free. In October, Cofidis announced that his contract would not be extended, after negotiations broke down over a new deal. A former boss at Subaru Montgomery offered him a contract with the US Postal team at a salary of $200,000 a year. By January 1998, Armstrong was engaged in serious training for racing, moving to Europe with the team.
Before his cancer treatment, Armstrong had participated in four Tour de France races, winning two stages. In 1993, he won the eighth stage and in 1995; he took stage 18 which he dedicated to teammate Fabio Casartelli who had crashed and died on stage 15. Armstrong dropped out of the 1996 Tour after the fifth stage after becoming ill, a few months before his diagnosis.
Armstrong's cycling comeback began in 1998 and he entered the 1998 edition of Paris-Nice but could not compete at such an elite level and abandoned the race. He then abandoned Europe with his fiancé and returned to Texas where he contemplated retirement. Not long after returning to the United States Armstrong entered seclusion near Beech Mountain and Boone, North Carolina with former Tour de France rider Bob Roll as well as Chris Carmichael and trained in the Appalachian Mountains. In May of 1998 Armstrong held his 2nd charity race for cancer research in Austin, Texas: The Race for the Roses. Greg LeMond, Irish cycling legend Sean Kelly and five time Tour champion Miguel Indurain were the most important cyclists at the event. LeMond said it was a good reason to get cyclists together, went on to say that life doesn't always deal the cards out equal and who knows if Armstrong will get back to the highest level, maybe he retires next year. During an interview Armstrong said the rider he admires the most is Laurent Jalabert, saying that when he's riding well, he's the fiercest competitor in the bunch.
He then entered and won the Tour of Luxembourg. During the 1998 Vuelta a España Armstrong shocked the cycling world by finishing in the top 5 during one ITT, the top 10 in another and for the most part staying with the GC contenders in the mountains en route to finishing 4th overall. His credibility as a threat was confirmed when he finished 4th in both the road race and time trial at the World Championships. As a result of these efforts Armstrong finished 3rd in the voting for the Vélo d'Or. In 1999 he won the Tour de France, including four stages. He beat the second place rider, Alex Zülle, by 7 minutes 37 seconds. However, the absence of Jan Ullrich (injury) and Marco Pantani (drug allegations) meant Armstrong had not yet proven himself against the biggest names in the sport. Stage wins included the prologue, stage eight, an individual time trial in Metz, an Alpine stage on stage nine, and the second individual time trial on stage 19.
In 2000, Ullrich and Pantani returned to challenge Armstrong. The race began a six-year rivalry between Ullrich and Armstrong and ended in victory for Armstrong by 6 minutes 2 seconds over Ullrich. Armstrong took one stage in the 2000 Tour, the second individual time trial on stage 19. In 2001, Armstrong again took top honors, beating Ullrich by 6 minutes 44 seconds. In 2002, Ullrich did not participate due to suspension, and Armstrong won by seven minutes over Joseba Beloki. During stage eleven and twelve of this Tour is when the race was won as US Postal had Vuelta champ Roberto Heras lead Armstrong up both climbs, breaking the peloton in the process. Then when Heras' work was done Armstrong took off to claim the stage wins only having to contend with Beloki.
The pattern returned in 2003, Armstrong taking first place and Ullrich second. Only a minute and a second separated the two at the end of the final day in Paris. U.S. Postal won the team time trial on stage 4 and on stage 9 Armstrong nearly crashed out of the Tour while defending the yellow jersey. He was less than a minute ahead of Beloki and Alexander Vinokourov was on a solo attack threatening to overtake Armstrong in the standings. While traversing the Côte de la Rochette Beloki crashed violently and hard, ending his Tour and sending him to the hospital with serious injuries. Armstrong narrowly avoided the same fate by reacting in time to avoid Beloki, but to do so he went off the road and ended up on a foot trail which led downhill through a field. He survived upright on his bike nearly to the end, at which time he picked it up and carried it the rest of the way to the road at the bottom of the hairpin turn, essentially losing no time as a result. He could have been fined or penalized for taking a shortcut, but it was deemed unintentional. Armstrong maintained a gap of only +0:21 over Vinokourov, but Ullrich was emerging as the most likely rider to overthrow Armstrong. Armstrong then took stage 15, despite having been knocked off on the ascent to Luz Ardiden, the final climb, when a spectator's bag caught his right handlebar. Ullrich waited for him, which brought Ullrich fair-play honors.
In 2004, Armstrong finished first, 6 minutes 19 seconds ahead of German Andreas Klöden. Ullrich was fourth, a further 2 minutes 31 seconds behind. Armstrong won a personal-best five individual stages, plus the team time trial. He became the first biker since Gino Bartali in 1948 to win three consecutive mountain stages; 15, 16, and 17. The individual time trial on stage 16 up Alpe d'Huez was won in style by Armstrong as he passed Ivan Basso on the way despite having set out two minutes after the Italian. He won sprint finishes from Basso in stages 13 and 15 and made up a significant gap in the last 250 m to nip Klöden at the line in stage 17. He won the final individual time trial, stage 19, to complete his personal record of stage wins.
In 2005, Armstrong was beaten by American David Zabriskie in the stage 1 time trial by two seconds, despite having passed Ullrich on the road. His Discovery Channel team won the team time trial, while Armstrong won the final individual time trial. In the mountain stages, Armstrong's lead was attacked multiple times mostly by Ivan Basso, but also by T-mobile leaders Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden and Alexandre Vinokourov and former teammate Levi Leipheimer. But still, the American champion handled them well, maintained his lead and, on some occasions, increased it. To complete his record-breaking feat, he crossed the line on the Champs-Élysées on July 24 to win his seventh consecutive Tour, finishing 4 m 40s ahead of Basso, with Ullrich third. Another record achieved that year was that Armstrong completed the tour at the highest pace in the race's history: his average speed over the whole tour was 41.7 km/h (26 mph). In 2005, Armstrong announced he would retire after the 2005 Tour de France, citing his desire to spend more time with his family and his foundation. During his retirement he was unaware of professional cycling but whilst at a conference, in 2008, he saw Carlos Sastre's win on Alpe d'Huez and "felt a pang".
Armstrong announced on September 9, 2008, that he would return to pro cycling with the express goal of participating in the 2009 Tour de France. VeloNews reported that Armstrong would race for no salary or bonuses and would post his internally tested blood results online.
Australian ABC radio reported on September 24, 2008, that Armstrong would compete in the UCI Tour Down Under through Adelaide and surrounding areas in January 2009. UCI rules say a cyclist has to be in an anti-doping program for six months before an event, but UCI allowed Armstrong to compete. He had to retire from the 2009 Vuelta a Castilla y León during the first stage after crashing in a rider pileup in Baltanás, Spain, and breaking his collarbone. Armstrong flew back to Austin, Texas, for corrective surgery, which was successful, and was back training on a bicycle within four days of his operation.
On April 10, 2009, a controversy emerged between the French anti-doping agency AFLD and Armstrong and his team manager, Johan Bruyneel, stemming from a March 17, 2009, encounter with an AFLD anti-doping official who visited Armstrong after a training ride in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. When the official arrived, Armstrong claims he asked—and was granted—permission to take a shower while Bruyneel checked the official's credentials. In late April, the AFLD cleared Armstrong of any wrongdoing. Armstrong returned to racing after his collarbone injury at the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico on April 29.
On July 7, in the fourth stage of the 2009 Tour de France, Armstrong narrowly failed to win the yellow jersey after his Astana team won the team time trial. His Astana team won the 39 km lap of Montpellier but Armstrong ended up just over two tenths of a second (0.22) outside Fabian Cancellara's overall lead. Armstrong finished the 2009 Tour de France on the podium in 3rd place. The only riders able to drop him were Andy Schleck who was able to defeat him by +1:13 and his own Astana teammate Alberto Contador, who won the Tour by more than four minutes over Schleck.
On July 21, 2009, Armstrong announced that he would return to the Tour de France in 2010. RadioShack was named as the main sponsor for Armstrong's 2010 team, named Team RadioShack. Armstrong made his 2010 season debut at the Tour Down Under where he finished 25th out of the 127 riders who completed the race. He made his European season debut at the 2010 Vuelta a Murcia finishing in seventh place overall. Armstrong was also set to compete in several classics such as the Milan–San Remo, Amstel Gold Race, Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and the Tour of Flanders, but bouts with gastroenteritis forced his withdrawal from three of the four races.
Armstrong returned to the United States in mid-April to compete in the Tour of Gila and May's Tour of California, both as preparation for the Tour de France. However, he crashed outside Visalia early in stage 5 of the Tour of California and had to withdraw from the race. He showed fine shape after recovering from the Tour of California crash, placing second in the Tour of Switzerland and third in the Tour of Luxembourg.
On June 28, Armstrong announced via Twitter that the 2010 edition would be his final Tour de France. Armstrong put in an impressive performance in the Tour's prologue time trial, finishing fourth. Only time trial specialists were able to better Armstrong's time and he was the highest placed of the GC contenders with a young, relatively unknown rider, Geraint Thomas, finishing one second behind him and Contador four seconds slower. In all eight of Armstrong's Tours since his comeback in 1999 he always had the requisite good luck early in the Tour and never got involved in crashes or mechanicals, which could cost him serious time. In 2010 his luck ran out early as he lost serious time due to the aftermath and peloton splits caused by a crash on stage 3, and then another crash on stage 8. He rallied for the brutal Pyrenean stage 16, working as a key player in a successful break that included teammate Chris Horner. He finished his last tour in 23rd place, 39 minutes 20 seconds behind former winner Alberto Contador. He was also a key rider in helping Team RadioShack win the team competition, beating Caisse d'Epargne by 9 minutes, 15 seconds. In October, he announced the end of his international career after the Tour Down Under in January 2011. He stated that after January 2011, he will race only in the U.S. with the Radioshack domestic team.
Armstrong announced his retirement from competitive cycling 'for good' on February 16, 2011, while still facing a US federal investigation into doping allegations.
Armstrong improved the support behind his well-funded teams, asking sponsors and suppliers to contribute and act as part of the team. For example, rather than having the frame, handlebars, and tires designed and developed by separate companies with little interaction, his teams adopted a Formula One relationship with sponsors and suppliers named "F-One", taking full advantage of the combined resources of several organizations working in close communication. The team, Trek, Nike, AMD, Bontrager (a Trek company), Shimano, Sram, Giro and Oakley, collaborated for an array of products.
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Congratulations are in order! Lance Armstrong is engaged to longtime girlfriend Anna Hansen! Related: RHONJ Star Danielle Staub Is Engaged! The cyclist made the announcement on Instagram with a beautiful pic featuring Lake Austin behind them, (above) and the caption: