Born on the 18th of September 1971 in Plano, Texas, Lance Armstrong is a champion cyclist who has already won the Tour de France four times in a row between 1999 and 2002. His mother Linda Walling, a single parent, brought him up and instilled in him an iron will when he was very young.
Armstrong started off as a swimmer, and then became a triathlete. He won the Iron Kids Triathlon when he was 13 and only took up cycling much later. By the time he was in high school Armstrong had developed a deep love for cycling. With a determination that belied his age, he qualified to train with the U.S. Olympic developmental team in Colorado Springs, Colorado during his senior year. He had to take private classes to graduate from High School.
Armstrong became the US National Amateur Champion in 1991 and competed in the Barcelona Olympics, finishing 14th. He then participated in the 1992 Classico San Sebastian, as a professional on the Motorola team, and came in last - 27 minutes behind the winner. He wanted to give up professional cycling then, but his mother dissuaded him from doing so. This was a humbling experience that strengthened his resolve and set the tone for his career.
1993 was a great year for Armstrong. His 10 titles that year included 1993 World Champion, U.S. PRO Champion, and a stage victory at Verdun in the prestigious Tour de France. This was a man who clearly thrived on challenge. For the first time in cycling history, a U.S. team, Armstrong's Team Motorola, was ranked among the top five in the world. The next two years saw him grow as a professional cyclist. He won the 1995 Tour de Pont, and then won stage 18 at the Tour de France in honour of his friend Fabio Casartelli who died during the competition from a head injury, following a crash. He also won the Classico San Sebastian – the race, which had almost ended his career three years earlier.
Armstrong roared into 1996 as the number one ranked cyclist in the world. He won the Tour Du Pont and the traditional spring classic Fleche Wallone in Belgium, competed as a member of the U.S. cycling team in the Atlanta summer Olympic games, signed a lucrative two-year contract with a French racing team.
In October 1996, Armstrong was diagnosed for an advanced stage of testicular cancer. It had spread to his lungs and brain. He began an aggressive form of chemotherapy that left him weakened, but a deep resolve and the support of his family and fans helped him survive the killer disease. Exactly 17 months later he returned to competition. Armstrong described his bout with cancer as "a special wake-up call." He set up the Lance Armstrong Foundation within months of his diagnosis. This international, non-profit Foundation was established to benefit cancer research and promote awareness and early detection.
Returning to pro cycling Armstrong went on to score stunning victories at the Tour de Luxembourg (June, 1998), the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfarht in Germany (July, 1998), the Cascade Classic in Oregon (July, 1998) and not only finished fourth in the Tour of Holland (September, 1998), but a remarkable fourth in the grueling Tour of Spain (September, 1998), one of the three elite races in the world.
Armstrong has been the undisputed king of cycling through the years 1999 and 2002, winning the Tour de France four times.