Lance Armstrong will be officially erased from the cycling record books. The USADA announced it will strip the seven-time Tour de France winner of his seven wins and ban him for life from competitive cycling, after Armstrong announced he would no longer contest doping allegations.
These actions do not erase the impact Armstrong had on the sport of cycling. No other athlete raised the profile of the sport the way Armstrong did. Whether or not the doping allegations are true, Armstrong did the most of any athlete to put cycling in the spotlight in the United States.
These 10 moments stand out as the biggest highlights in Armstrong's cycling career:
1. Comeback from cancer
A diagnosis of testicular cancer in October 1996 left Armstrong battling for his life. The cancer had spread to his lungs, brain and abdomen. Armstrong had about a 40 percent chance of survival, but he beat the cancer and it went into remission, allowing him to return to competitive cycling in 1998.
2. Armstrong eclipses Indurain's record
When Armstrong won the 2004 Tour de France, it marked his sixth consecutive General Classification (GC) victory in the race. The victory pushed Armstrong past cycling legend Miguel Indurain as the record holder for the most consecutive Tour de France victories. Indurain became the first cyclist to win five straight titles when he did it from 1991 to 1995.
3. First Tour de France win
Armstrong completed his comeback from testicular cancer by winning the 1999 Tour de France. He won a total of four stages and beat runner-up Alex Zulle by 7 minutes, 37 seconds.
4. Seventh Tour de France win
Armstrong capped off his streak of seven consecutive Tour de France titles in impressive fashion. He completed all the stages at the highest cumulative pace in the race's history. Armstrong averaged 40.27 kilometers per hour during the 2005 Tour de France.
5. First Tour de France stage win
At 22 years old, Armstrong scored his first success at the Tour de France. He won the 8th stage at the 1993 Tour de France. It was the first of 22 career stage wins at the Tour de France.
6. Winning for Casartelli
Armstrong claimed an emotional stage win at the 1995 Tour de France. He won Stage 18 and dedicated it to the memory of Fabio Casartelli, a teammate of Armstrong's who crashed and died on Stage 15.
7. Armstrong beats Ulrich
Some Armstrong critics placed an asterisk next to his first Tour de France win in 1999 because favorite Jan Ulrich sat out with an injury. Armstrong proved the result was legit in the 2000 Tour de France, when he beat Ulrich by 6:02 to win his second overall Tour title. It was the first of six straight wins over Ulrich.
8. Armstrong takes three consecutive mountain stages
The 2004 Tour de France offered up several milestones for Armstrong. He won a personal-best five stages. He also became the first rider since Gino Batali to win three consecutive mountain stages when he won stages 15, 16 and 17.
9. Return to cycling
Four years after retiring from cycling for the first time, Armstrong came back and competed in the 2009 Tour de France. He fell short of claiming an eighth Tour GC victory, but finished third overall behind eventual winner and teammate Alberto Contador. Armstrong finished just 5:24 behind Contador.
10. Armstrong competes in his last Tour de France
Before the 2010 Tour de France, Armstrong announced it would be the last time he competed in the race. It felt a little anti-climatic. Armstrong fared well in the prologue, finishing third. A series of crashes in later stages derailed his last attempt to win and Armstrong finished 23rd overall.
More on Armstrong's Tour de France achievements can be found at the official website for the race.
John Coon has covered major cycling events such as the Tour of Utah for multiple publications and wire services as a reporter in Salt Lake City.
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