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Armstrong’s great triumph

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Lance Armstrong added another inspiring chapter to his incredible story Sunday by winning the Tour de France for the third straight time.

About five years ago Armstrong was given only a 50-50 chance to live after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, which spread to his brain and lungs.

But while doctors and friends worried about Armstrong's health, he was more concerned about what he was going to do with his life. For him, that meant returning to cycling. After four rounds of chemotherapy and two operations — one to remove a testicle and one for brain lesions — Armstrong was able to return to cycling in 1998.

His success since then has been phenomenal. Returning to cycling is one thing. Winning the Tour de France is quite another, especially doing it three straight years. The Tour de France is cycling's most grueling test. The race consists of 20 stages — many in the mountains — and this year covered 2,100 miles in France and Belgium.

Armstrong obliterated the field, finishing 6 minutes and 44 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger, Jan Ullrich of Germany.

Only one other American, Greg Lemond, has won the Tour de France. Lemond also won it three times but not consecutively. The record for most Tour de France victories is five, shared by Eddie Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain.

Only 29, Armstrong will likely have a number of opportunities to equal or surpass the people who hold the record.

But of more importance, certainly in the long-term, is the milestone Armstrong will achieve on Oct. 2. That date marks the fifth anniversary of his recovery from cancer. Doctors at that point will say the chances of his cancer recurring are minimal. His checkups will change from twice annually to just once annually.

Armstrong feels his battle with cancer has helped him successfully conquer the grueling stages in the Tour de France. He said he approaches the sport with a new intensity, an intensity that wouldn't have taken place had he not had cancer.

That determination was very much in evidence the past few weeks, ending with his capturing his third Tour de France title. It was an inspiring performance for anyone struggling to overcome a major challenge.