Tour de France
“It's ironic; I used to ride my bike to make a living. Now I just want to live so that I can ride.” Lance Armstrong
First receiving attention as a cyclist in 1991 when he became the winner of the American Amateur Cycling Championship, Lance Armstrong created history with his seven consecutive wins at the reputable Tour de France from 1999 to 2005. He also won a World Road Race Championship in 1993 and two Tour DuPont tournaments in 1995 and 1996. Prior to his Tour de France victory, Armstrong struggled with testicular cancer that nearly ended his cycling career. He stated, “(Cancer) put pain in perspective for me. It put suffering and defeat in perspective. The illness taught me how to really suffer and suffer slowly, and it's not as if you get sick and it hurts and a week later you get better. It's a long type of suffering, physical, emotional, mental, social. It gave me a certain sense of hunger and drive and determination that I was going to come back and give it my all.”
During his triumphant years, Lance earned a Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year award in 1999 and four consecutive ESPY awards for Best Male Athlete from 2003 to 2006. He also won two Laureus World Sports Awards (2000 and 2003), four Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year awards (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005) and a BBC Sports Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award (2003). In 2002, Armstrong, who regards Eddy Merckx the greatest cyclist ever, was named “Sports Illustrated's” “Sportsman of the Year.”
Armstrong retired from professional road racing (cycling) in 2005 after taking home his seventh Tour de France title. He has since worked on his cancer foundation, the Lance Armstrong Foundation for Cancer (now LiveStrong), which he founded in 1996.
Armstrong divorced Kristin Richard in 2003. They have three children. In January 2004, he was reportedly dating singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow and they became engaged in September 2005. They broke up in February 2006, reportedly after Crow was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Armstrong has resided in Austin, Texas, since 1990. He is a supporter of The University of Texas Longhorns college football program. In addition to a home in Austin, he also has a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Armstrong published the successful autobiography “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” and “Every Second Counts,” in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
Childhood and Family:
Named after Lance Rentzel, a wide receiver of the Dallas Cowboys, Lance Edward Gunderson was born on September 18, 1971, in Plano, Texas, to Eddie Charles Gunderson and Linda Gayle Mooneyham. His father left the family when he was only two years old. His mother then married Terry Keith Armstrong, who adopted Lance when he was four years old.
Growing up in the suburb of Dallas, young Lance discovered an interest in sports. He was excellent in triathlons and began a pro career at age 16. He won two national triathlons championships in 1989 and 1990. However, Lance later decided to focus on cycling and began his national career when he was a senior in high school. Lance earned his high school diploma in 1989.
Lance married Kristin Richard on May 8, 1998. Their first child was named Luke David (born on October 12, 1999). The couple welcomed twin girls, Isabelle Rose and Grace Elizabeth, on November 21, 2001. Lance separated from his wife in February 2003 before filing for divorce seven months later.
A two-time national triathlon winner, Lance Armstrong began his cycling career when he was still a senior in high school. His promising talent soon caught the attention of the national Olympic development team, who invited Armstrong to train with them. In 1990, he gained a spot on the Junior World team and finished 11th place at World Championship Road Race. Armstrong went on to achieve the national amateur title in 1991 and later that same year, he became the winner of two major races, the First Union Grand Prix and the Thrift Drug Classic.
After winning another stage race in Italy in 1991, Armstrong joined the national team to compete at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but he only finished 14th. Soon after the event, he embarked on his professional career with the Motorola cycling team. As a team leader, Armstrong experienced a banner year in 1993 when he became the winner at a 1993 World Road Race Championship in Oslo, Norway, making him the youngest ever to reach that prestigious spot.
Competing at Tour DuPont in 1991, Armstrong finally gained victory in 1995 when he beat out the previous year’s winner, Viatcheslav Ekimov. He again won the following year. Armstrong also competed in the Atlanta Olympics. 1996 also found Armstrong leaving his old team to join France's Team Cofidis.
Armstrong had to deal with set back later that same year when the doctor diagnosed him with testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs and brain. With less then a 50% chance of recovery, he fought against the disease by undergoing surgeries and extensively taking chemotherapy. Eventually, he regained his health in February 1997.
“Without the illness I would never have been forced to re-evaluate my life and my career. I know if I had not had cancer, I would not have won the Tour de France.” Lance Armstrong
Hoping to resume his career, Armstrong started a strict training program. After signing a sponsoring contract with The US Postal Service, the determined cyclist made his return in 1998 and dominated a number of less prestigious races. Armstrong, however, did not acquire widespread recognition until 1999 when he made an auspicious comeback at the Tour de France. He won the race and created a new record with an average speed of 25 miles per hour. Armstrong went on to collect six more victories at the Tour de France before finally retiring. The 2005 Tour de France marked his last race.
Since his retirement, Armstrong has focused his energy on his cancer foundation, LiveStrong (formerly Lance Armstrong Foundation), and other interests, including marathons. He ran for the New York City Marathon twice in 2006 and 2007. During his first marathon, the seven-time Tour de France winner was able to raise $600,000 for his cancer campaign.
In 2009, the retired cyclist is scheduled to appear in a sport-themed drama film based on his autobiography.
United States Olympic Committee (USOC): SportsMan of the Year (1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003)
Associated Press: Male Athlete of the Year (2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005)
World's Most Outstanding Athlete Award: Jesse Owens International Trophy (2000)
Reuters: Sportsman of the Year (2003)
Prince of Asturias Award in Sports (2000)
Sports Ethics Fellows by the Institute for International Sport (2003)
Laureus World Sports Award: Sportsman of the Year (2003)
Laureus World Sports Award: Comeback of the Year (2000)
Trophee de L'Academie des Sport: [France] (2004)
Vélo d'Or Award by Velo Magazine in France (1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004)
Mendrisio d'Or Award in Switzerland (1999)
Premio Coppi-Bici d'Oro Trophy by the Fausto Coppi foundation in conjunction with La Gazzetta dello Sport (1999, 2000)
Marca Legend Award by Marca, a Spanish sports daily in Madrid (2004)
BBC Sports: Personality of the Year Overseas Personality Award (2003)
ESPY: Award for Best Male Athlete (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006)
ESPY: Award for GMC Professional Grade Play Award (2005)
ESPY: Award for Best Comeback Athlete (2000)
ESPN/Intersport: ARETE Award for Courage in Sport (Professional Division) (1999)
ABC's Wide World of Sports: Athlete of the Year (1999)
Nickelodeon: Choice Awards (2006)
Sports Illustrated: Sportsman of the Year (2002)
VeloNew: International Cyclist of the Year (2000, 2001, 2003, 2004)
VeloNew: North American Male Cyclist of the Year (1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2005)
Tour de France: 7 consecutive wins