Lance Armstrong wins 90th Tour de France
The 2003 Tour de France started and ended in Paris.
Lasting from July 5 to July 27 the race covered 3,350 km (2081.58 mi), proceeding clockwise in twenty stages around France, including six major mountain stages. Due to the centennial celebration, this edition of the tour was raced entirely in France and did not enter neighboring countries.
In the centenary year of the race the route recreated, in part, that of 1903. There was a special Centenaire Classement prize for the best-placed in each of the six stage finishes which match the 1903 tour - Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Nantes and Paris. It was won by Stuart O'Grady, with Thor Hushovd in second place. The 2003 Tour was honored with the Prince of Asturias Award for Sport.
Of the 198 riders the favorite was again Lance Armstrong, aiming for a record equalling fifth win. Before the race, it was believed that his main rivals would include Iban Mayo, Aitor González, Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Basso, Gilberto Simoni, Jan Ullrich, and Joseba Beloki but Armstrong was odds-on favorite. Though he did go on to win the race, it is statistically, and by Armstrong's own admission, his weakest Tour from his seven-year period of dominance over the race.
Lance Armstrong claimed his fifth consecutive Tour de France title as expected on Sunday.
The 31-year-old American becomes only the second rider to win five Tours in a row and one of five men to have won five Tours in total.
The final stage was won by French sprinter Jean-Patrick Nazon, with Armstrong keeping well out of trouble at the back of the peloton.
Armstrong joins Tour legends Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Indurain and Jacques Anquetil as a five-time winner of cycling's biggest race.
"It's a great feeling when someone like Hinault comes to you on the podium to say 'welcome to the club'," said Armstrong, who beat German Jan Ullrich by 61 seconds overall, his narrowest Tour win by far.
Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov was third, four minutes 14 seconds behind the US Postal team leader.
Britain's David Millar, win of the penultimate stage, finshed 55th overall.
Tour organisers could not have dreamt of a more fitting winner for the centenary of their race.
"It was superb, the best race in 20 years or at least since 1989 when I took over as the Tour director," said Tour director Jean-Marie Leblanc.
"The champions were at their best every day, they were tested and challenged daily, both physically and mentally."
Armstrong added: "It's definitely the most stressful Tour, considering my physical and mental fatigue, by a factor of 10. "In the other years I had five, or six, seven minutes. I think it perfectly sets up an attempt for number six."
Nazon held off the Australian duo of Baden Cooke and Robbie McEwen after a mass sprint in the shadow of the Arc de Triomphe.
Cooke and McEwen, who were chasing the green jersey awarded to the winner of the points competition, were touching shoulders as they crossed the line.
And it was Cooke who was awarded second place by little more than an inch, giving him the green jersey by just two points from McEwen.
Richard Virenque won the polka dot jersey awarded to the King of the Mountains while Denis Menchov claimed the white jersey as best young rider.