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Armstrong Aims for Fifth Tour de France Title

Posted July. 15, 2003 21:50,   


Four-time champion Lance Armstrong, who is known for his triumphant battle against cancer, is moving a step closer to his fifth title of the Tour de France.

Armstrong kept his lead in the Tour de France on July 15, after avoiding crashing into his main rival, Spaniard Joseba Beloki, in the challenging ninth course set in Gap in the Alps. Having broken his right leg and wrist in the crash, Beloki had to give up the race.

The 31-year-old American is taking an overall lead at 40 hours 15 minutes and 26 seconds, outrunning Alexandre Vinokorov from Kazakhstan by 21 seconds.

Armstrong took the lead in the 219-km eighth stage on Monday and wore the yellow jersey. Traditionally, only the player taking a lead can wear the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.

The Tour de France, celebrating its centenary year this year, is a grueling 3,427.5km race held over 23 days. Players often lose more than 5kg during the race, climbing the Pyrenees and the Alps roughly 2,000m above the sea-level with an average temperature of 35 centigrade.

This year`s race, which began on July 6, comprises 20 courses, just as in the first race held in 1903. It will continue through July 28.

If he wins the title this year, Armstrong will become a five-time champion. The only player to win the Tour de France title five times was Spaniard Miguel Indurain, who won the race five consecutive years from 1991 through 1995.

Armstrong, nicknamed `the superman of cycling,` was told that he had prostate cancer in October 1996 at the age of 25. Cancer cells were already spread through his lung and brain, and the chances of survive were only about 40%.

He overcame the adversity and began to cycle again two years later. Since 1999, he has won the Tour de France race four consecutive times. The world is now watching whether Armstrong will be able to wear the yellow jersey this year again, becoming the race’s second five-time champion.