RIGA - Lance Armstrong lived up to his iron-man reputation once again, winning a record seventh consecutive Tour de France title on July 24. The victory marks the end of the 33-year-old's awe-inspiring career, as he announced his retirement earlier this year.
Standing on the podium next to second-place winner Ivan Basso from Italy and fierce German competitor Jan Ullrich, Armstrong listened as the American national anthem was played for him for the seventh and last time. He then set another record as the first champion to deliver a speech from the podium.
"To all the cynics, I'm sorry for you. I'm sorry you can't believe in miracles. This is a great sporting event and hard work wins it," Armstrong said. "Vive le Tour forever."
Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov won the final stage of the race after surging ahead during the last lap on the Champs Elysees.
Despite winning only one stage, the 55.5-km individual time trial in St Etienne on July 23, Armstrong said this was one of his easier races.
Armstrong collected the first of his 82 yellow jerseys in 1999, and since then he has become a Tour icon and inspiration to cyclists worldwide. The rider's seven consecutive titles are even more admirable considering that he almost lost his life to testicular cancer, a personal battle he also conquered.
Despite pressure from Basso and several aggressive moves by Ullrich's team mates, Armstrong raced through a relatively calm three-week tour, dominating all terrains. The American's only goal was to end his career with yet another Tour win, one that would, once again, seal his place in history. Armstrong, for sure, is a name that will never fade.