Lance Armstrong becomes U.S. National Amateur Champion

Soon, Armstrong chose to focus on cycling, his strongest event as well as his favorite.

During his senior year in high school, the U.S. Olympic development team invited him to train with them in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He left high school temporarily to do so, but later took private classes and received his high school diploma in 1989. The following summer, he qualified for the 1990 junior world team and placed 11th in the World Championship Road Race, with the best time of any American since 1976. That same year, he became the U.S. national amateur champion and beat out many professional cyclists to win two major races, the First Union Grand Prix and the Thrift Drug Classic.

In 1991, Armstrong competed in his first Tour DuPont, a long and difficult 12-stage race, covering 1,085 miles over 11 days. Though he finished in the middle of the pack, his performance announced a promising newcomer to the world of international cycling. He went on to win another stage race, the Settimana Bergamasca race, in Italy later that summer.

At the near-cost of his high school diploma, he trained with the U.S. Olympic cycling developmental team in Colorado Springs, Colorado, during his senior year. That sealed his destiny and Lance embarked on a career as a bike racer.

His rise in the amateur ranks appeared effortless, and Lance qualified for the junior world championships in Moscow in 1989. By 1991 he was the U.S. National Amateur Champion and soon after turned professional.

While still a senior in high school he was invited by the U.S. Cycling Federation to go to Colorado Springs to train with the junior U.S. National Team, and to travel to Moscow for the 1990 Junior World Championships. By 1991 he was the U.S. National Amateur Champion. Lance remained an amateur competitor through the 1992 Olympic games in Barcelona, where he finished 14th.