Lance Armstrong wins the 87th Tour de France

The 2000 Tour de France was the 87th Tour de France, and took place from July 1 to July 23, 2000.

It was won by American cyclist Lance Armstrong. The Tour started with an individual time trial in Futuroscope (not an official prologue because it was longer than 8 km) and ended traditionally in Paris. The distance travelled was 3630 km (counter-clockwise around France). The Tour passed through Switzerland and Germany.
Before the race started, there were a few favourites for the victory. Lance Armstrong was of course one of the favourites, after his 1999 Tour de France victory. Jan Ullrich was also one of the favourites, having won the 1997 Tour de France, finishing second in the 1996 and 1998 tours, and not entering the 1999 Tour due to an injury. 1998 Tour winner Marco Pantani was also considered a favourite. Richard Virenque finished 8th place in the 1999 Tour despite a bad preparation, and for the 2000 year he was considered an important player. Also Fernando Escartin, Bobby Julich, Alexander Vinokourov and Alex Zülle were considered contenders.

American Lance Armstrong’s win last year proved his triumph over cancer, but his second straight Tour de France victory today proved his dominance in the sport of cycling.

Armstrong began the largely ceremonial running of Stage 21 six minutes and two seconds ahead of closest challenger Jan Ullrich of Germany, a seemingly insurmountable lead heading into the final leg of the 2,250-mile Tour de France.

Indeed, it was, as Armstrong rode through Paris in the yellow jersey of the Tour champion for the second year in a row. He became the 11th rider ever to win consecutive Tours, and joined Greg LeMond as the only Americans to have accomplished the feat.

“It was more emotional this time than it was last year, believe it or not,” Armstrong told ESPN after the race. “It’s a sweeter victory.”

A Champion’s Coronation

Italy’s Stefano Zanini of the Mapei team outlasted a frantic sprint at the finish to win the 21st stage with a winning time of 3 hours, 12 minutes and 36 seconds.

German Erik Zabel finished second, and Romans Vainsteins of Latvia came in third in the 138-kilometer (85.7-mile) stage, which began in Paris at the base of the Eiffel Tower and concluded with seven laps of the famous boulevard, the Champs-Elysees.

But the real champion of the day was Armstrong, who completed the entire three-week Tour in the fastest time among the 180-rider field: 92 hours, 33 minutes and 8 seconds.

Ullrich made up no time today on the defending champion and finished second overall, 6:02 behind Armstrong. Third-place finisher was Spaniard Joseba Beloki, at 10:04 off the overall lead.

Zabel earned his final green points jersey as the Tour’s most consistent sprinter, while Colombia climber Santiago Botero won the prestigious polka-dot jersey as King of the Mountains.

On the winner’s podium, the 28-year-old Texas hoisted his 9-month-old son Luke on his shoulders. “It’s a great day for our family. It’s really unbelievable,” said Armstrong’s wife, Kristin.

Armstrong wins $315,000 for winning the Tour, plus $7,200 for his stage win.

His only scheduled appearance today after the race was to attend a benefit for cancer research, a cause he’s championed since being diagnosed in 1996 with advanced testicular cancer. Given less than a 40 percent chance of survival, he underwent brain surgery and chemotherapy and had a testicle removed.

“I take inspiration from these people,” Armstrong said after meeting with cancer victims. “It’s almost an unfair advantage that I get to talk to these people every day.”