|Armstrong in 2002|
Armstrong's first taste of competition was in swimming and he came fourth in the Texas Junior Championships when he was 12 before moving into triathlon a year later. Aged 16, he became a professional triathlete; three years later he had two National Championship titles under his belt. In addition to training for the cycling sections of his races, Armstrong frequently traveled to events on his bike, sometimes riding many miles and then racing before riding home again - it was not long before he began to excel on the bike and he entered and won the 1991 National Amateur Championship, then a year later placed 14th in the Olympic Road Race. He was snapped up by Motorola soon after the Games came to an end and won the first race he entered with them, then won the Elite National Championships, Stage 8 at the Tour de France and the World Championships. In 1994 he was second at the Clásica San Sebastián and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in 1995 he won Stage 18 at the Tour and a second Clásica San Sebastián, in 1996 he won the Waalse Pijl - it was obvious that a serious new talent had emerged, though not yet obvious how far he would go.
By the beginning of the 1998 season, Armstrong had recovered sufficiently to be offered a contract with US Postal and he won six victories that year. In 1999, having started the year with some very good results, he won the first of his record seven consecutive Tours de France. Initially, Armstrong was disliked by European fans due to his brash personality and, it should be said, a good dose of anti-American sentiment among the fans; in time he would earn a grudging respect. However, while his Tour results spoke for themselves, few European fans ever considered him to be one of the true greats - he had concentrated on the Tour alone, they said, and therefore could not be considered to be as great as the likes of Anquetil and Hinault, both of whom won two fewer Tours but many more races in total than Armstrong - and he wasn't even in the same league as Eddy Merckx with his 525 victories (thought that one probably didn't probably didn't bother him much; anyone who knows the history of cycling knows that nobody - until Marianne Vos came along - was in Merckx's league). He was great, but he was not a Great.
|Armstrong became a personal friend of President George|
|Winning Stage 10 on the Alpe d'Huez, Tour de France 2001|
|Tour de France 2009|
Days later and still maintaining that he was innocent and had never doped, Armstrong announced that he had no further plans to contest the charges against him. As a result, he was stripped of all results gained since the 1st of August 1998, including his seven Tour de France victories. Afterwards, USADA revealed that had he have fought on, they would likely have stripped him of three. Whatever one thinks of Armstrong, his tactics and personality, there can he no doubt that one of the most remarkable eras in the history of cycling has come to an end.
In 2000, Rous switched to Bonjour, won the GP du Midi-Libre and managed two top ten stage finishes at the Tour de France, then in 2001 he became National Road Race Champion and won 11 other victories including the General Classification at the Four Days of Dunkirk; in 2002 he won the Circuit Cycliste Sarthe. He rode for Brioches La Boulangère for the next two years and won another National Championship as well as the GP Ouest France; then went to Bouygues Telecom, where he would spend the rest of his career, in 2005. In 2006, he won the Trophée des Grimpeurs for the third time before victory at Paris - Corrèze rounded off his season - and, as it turned out, his racing career: he won nothing in 2007, then announced his retirement due to health problems in June before joining the team management committee.
Yukihiro Doi, born in Yamagata Prefecture on this day in 1983, became Japanese Road Race Champion in 2012.
|Steffen competing at the 2012 Austrian Ironman|
Gary Anderson, who was born in London but raced with a New Zealand licence (having moved there when he was nine), won a total of eight medals (including three gold) at the Commonwealth Games between 1986 and 1990 and also won a bronze at the 1992 Olympics. Anderson had a heart defect that often caused his pulse to race during competition.
Azzedine Lagab, born on this day in 1986, was Algerian National Time Trial Champion in 2007, 2011 and 2012 and Nation Road Race Champion in 2010 and 2012.
Other cyclists born on this day: Piotr Chmielewski (Poland, 1970); Mathieu Perget (France, 1984); Gerard Lettoli (San Marino, 1946); Rolf Nitzsche (Germany, 1930); Felice Puttini (Switzerland, 1967); Kelly-Ann Way (Canada, 1964); Tom Morris (Canada, 1944); Eugen Kamber (Switzerland, 1924, died 1991); Gennady Komnatov (USSR, 1949, died 1979); Phil Bayton (Great Britain, 1950); Sergey Shelpakov (USSR, 1956); Mario Masanés (Chile, 1927); András Parti (Hungary, 1982); Leif Flengsrud (Norway, 1922, died 2009); Piet Kloppenburg (Netherlands, 1896, died 1972); Sławomir Kohut (Poland, 1977); Christian Poulsen (Denmark, 1979); Carlos García (Uruguay, 1964).