Lance Armstrong - Lance’s sporting career began in
Plano, Texas, where his mother Linda supported his competitive urges from the
beginning. He displayed a gift early on when he won the Iron Kids Triathlon at
13 and became a professional when he was only 16. At the near-cost of his high
school diploma, he trained with the U.S. Olympic cycling developmental team in
Colorado Springs during his senior year. That sealed his destiny and Lance
embarked on a career as a bike racer.
His rise in the amateur ranks appeared effortless, and Lance qualified for the
junior world championships in Moscow in 1989. By 1991 he was the U.S. National
Amateur Champion and soon after turned professional. Once in the pro ranks, he
quickly proved himself with a USPRO Championship title, stage victories in the
Tour de France, a World Championship, multiple victories at the Tour du Pont, a
#1 world ranking, and a spot on the U.S. Olympic team. Lance entered 1996 as the
#1 ranked cyclist in the world, competed as a member of the U.S. Cycling Team in
the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games and signed a contract with the French-based
Cofidis racing team.
While seemingly at the top of his game, he was literally forced off his bike in
excruciating pain. In early October, his doctor gave him some startling news
that would change his life forever. Tests revealed advanced testicular cancer
that had spread to his lungs and his brain. Though his chances for his recovery
were far less than 50-50, a frightened yet determined Lance began an aggressive
form of chemotherapy. With the advice of specialists, he tried a course of
treatment that gave him a chance for a full recovery with less danger of losing
lung capacity as a side effect. Remarkably, the chemotherapy began to work, and
Lance gradually allowed his thoughts to return to racing.
Cancer left him scarred physically and emotionally, but he now maintains it was
"...the best thing that ever happened to me." This new perspective allowed him
to think beyond cycling and focus on his debt to the cancer community. He formed
the Lance Armstrong Foundation within months of his diagnosis to help others
with their cancer struggles.
Lance’s complete recovery from cancer seemed miraculous but returning to racing
felt impossible. Having departed from Cofidis, Lance found himself teamless
until the United States Postal Service took a leap of faith and signed him.
Needing to prove himself in the ranks of the professional elite, Lance competed
in a Paris-Nice race in 1998. His professional comeback got off to a rocky start
when he pulled to the side of the road and quit. Many thought that was the last
day on the bike for Lance Armstrong.
Lance later admitted that he wasn’t ready to return to racing at that time. He
was just learning how to live again, let alone race a bicycle. He retreated to
North Carolina with friend and longtime coach, Chris Carmichael for a week of
stress-free riding. It was there that he learned to love the bike again and
built up the courage to try once more. His first race back was a reason for
celebration as he won the Lance Armstrong Foundation Downtown Criterium in his
hometown. His new focus on life and training paid off in the form of top-five
finishes in the Tour of Spain and the World Championships.
1999 came with a specific goal - the Tour de France. When Lance went to the line
at the prologue of the Tour, it was already a victory, both for him and for
cancer survivors everywhere. He won the prologue stage and rode on to win his
first Tour victory with a stunning mixture of power, aggressiveness and team
strategy. Lance was now officially an international hero.
Lance added six more Tour de France titles to his list and has been awarded
virtually every sports honor there is. As he continues to be a leader and
activist on behalf of cancer survivors around the world, he is a symbol of hope
and inspiration. The Lance Armstrong Foundation is among the most influential
organizations of its kind. Today it provides practical information and tools
people need to battle cancer and live strong through education, advocacy, public
health programs and research grants.
After winning his unprecedented seventh consecutive title in the 2005 Tour,
Lance officially announced his retirement. No matter what his path in the
future, Lance will travel it with the sure knowledge that every day is precious
and that every step matters. "...if you ever get a second chance in life, you've
got to go all the way." - Lance Armstrong