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Love, Adversity Propel Armstrong to Record Sixth Tour de France Victory

Love, Adversity Propel Armstrong to Record Sixth Tour de France Victory

Posted July. 26, 2004 21:54,   


"Kristen was at my back to overcome cancer, and [Sheryl] Crow was behind me to support my sixth consecutive championship."

Lance Armstrong (32, USA) became the greatest winning rider in the 101-year history of the Tour de France in the 2004 France road tour cycling competition, which lasted until July 26.

Armstrong finished the last section of the race (163km) with a four-hour, eight-minute and 45 second time, which trailed the first-place section time of Tom Boonen (Belgium) by 19 seconds, but Armstrong notched a total time of 83 hours, 36 minutes, and two seconds to claim the crown. Andrea Kloden (Germany) became the runner-up, finishing six minutes and 19 seconds behind Armstrong. Ivan Basso (Italy) and Jan Ullrich (Germany) lined up to take third and fourth places, respectively.

Armstrong replaced the previous five-time championship record of Miguel Indurain (Spain) by sweeping six consecutive titles starting from 1999.

Behind the scenes of Armstrong’s indomitable victory, there stood women who devotedly supported him.

When Armstrong was suffering from testicular cancer in 1997, an affliction with a survival rate of 50 percent, his ex-wife Kristen helped him overcome the disease. Right after his recovery, he won the 1999 Tour de France.

After capturing his fifth Tour de France win last year, his popularity became the reason for his divorce with his wife. Kristen said that she couldn`t put up with the excessive interest in Armstrong’s life.

The savior of Armstrong’s next crisis was top celebrity singer Sheryl Crow (42). Crow kindly embraced Armstrong, who was living in his dark days, and Armstrong regained a sense of tranquility from her to help him capture the victory for the sixth straight year.

Global musical recording artist Crow, who has won the Grammy award nine times, is a mental refuge for Armstrong. Crow, who became Armstrong’s other half at the end of last year, took good care of Armstrong, who is sensitive and not entirely comfortable mixing with people, like an elder sister.

The couple appeared together at movies or events, and they openly stood out as a couple. They stayed at Armstrong’s residence in Spain and recorded a duet titled "Love and Life" together. During the competition, Crow traveled with Armstrong’s racing team to offer him support along the race’s entire route. After Armstrong crossed the finish line, Crow was there waiting for him.

Armstrong’s ex-wife Kristen, who stood beside in tours past, watched Armstrong win the championship on television with her son and twin sister in Austin, Texas.

Jong-Koo Yang yjongk@donga.com