Summary: The years since 2000 have seen Lance Armstrong achieve a record breaking total of seven victories in the Tour de France - the most victories ever by a single rider, and he did them seven-in-a-row to boot. Despite many setbacks, Armstrong shows that focus and precision pay off.
During the 2000 Tour de France all eyes are on Lance Armstrong as he goes about attempting his second consecutive win. He rides with the taint of doping scandals chasing him. If 1999 was the year of the comeback, then 2000 would be the year of vindication. This would also be, very sadly, the year a 12 year old boys dies after being hit by a publicity vehicle during the race. Despite a public lack of confidence in his abilities, Armstrong wins again.
In 2001 Armstrong is seeking the "pantheon" of Tour De France as he rides for his third straight win. Only four others have gone before him– Louison Bobet (1953-1954-1955), Jacques Anquetil (1961-1962-1963), Eddy Merckx (1969-1970-1971-1972) and Miguel Indurain (1991-1992-1993-1994-1995). The odds are definitely against him. But overcoming enormous hurdles has become a way of life for Armstrong. His fight against testicular cancer is known throughout the world. Will this be the year that Jan Ullrich dominates? Three consecutive mountain stages with three mountaintop stage finishes present a difficult challenge for both the defenders of and the pretenders to le Maillot Jaune.
In 2001, Armstrong begins by truly destroying Jan Ullrich in the Alps. Then he wins the mountain time trial. When Lance Armstrong does win his third straight victory in 2001 he says it was his best win so far.
And now with the focus and precision he is so well known for, Armstrong sets his sight on a fourth win. He says, "The Tour de France is the most beautiful, the biggest, and most special race in the world for me, and for the United States."
Basking in the radiance of being King for the Day, Armstrong ends the race nearly seven minutes ahead of Jan Ullrich. He clearly enjoys his win. And he is now America's best Tour rider. He's definitely on a roll and in no time he's focused on a fifth Tour victory. Only Miguel Indurain has won five times straight.
Oddly enough it is the wife of a rider that dominates the 2002 race. Lithuanian cyclist Raimondas Rumas is suspended because his wife is found with doping paraphernalia. Suspicion is first raised when Rumas won the 2000 Tour of Lombardy. "It's true that he won the Tour of Lombardy but he didn't have the reputation as a rider capable of challenging in the biggest races, capable of a podium finish in the Tour de France," Leblanc said. In the midst of this controversy, Armstrong wins again. Armstrong continues stronger than ever, winning in 2003, and 2004.
In 2005 Armstrong now cycles for an unheard of seventh win. His only challengers are the German team of Jan Ullrich, Andreas Klöden and Alexandre Vinokourov. There is no doubt that Ullrich will be a formidable opponent. This year, 2005, will go down in cycling history no matter who wins as this race will mark the end of Armstrong's shining career. And Armstrong pulls it off with an astounding cycling victory– seven Tours de France wins, eighty-three yellow jerseys, and twenty-one stage victories.
The Post Lance Era
In 2006 the Tour de France has the most open field in memory, after some leading contenders are disqualified just weeks prior due to doping allegations. Another American, Flolyd Landis, wins the 2006 Tour with incredible efforts, only to have the honor removed a day later due to failing a doping test. Floyd vigorously disputes the doping test and is continuing to dispute it to this day.