Preparation Builds Versatile Predator
Armstrong is the only man ever to win the Tour de France six times.
To be a great champion you have to be versatile. Superior strength in just one area of your sport limits your potential. It?s not enough to only excel in perfect conditions; you have to be able to attack in any situation, at any moment. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
In winning the 2004 Tour de France, Armstrong becomes the only man ever to win the race six times. He has dominated the race since 1999, but this year may have been the most enjoyable of them all. Years ago, on morning of the first mountain stage in the 1999 Tour de France, Lance was in the yellow jersey and terrified he would lose it. Six <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Arriving at the Tour in great physical condition also gave Armstrong more tactical freedom throughout the race. He was powerful on flat roads, could sustain a high pace on climbs, could accelerate to attack in any terrain, and he could even sprint. What?s more, he had the strongest team in the race, able to support his efforts at all times. Without any weaknesses, Lance and the US Postal Service seized the opportunity to attack or put pressure on rivals during throughout the race:
? Prologue: Armstrong finishes second and takes 15-plus seconds out his chief rivals in the opening four-mile time trial.
? Stage 3: USPS opened the throttle over two sections of cobblestones and 60 kilometers of flat roads to eliminate Iban Mayo from contention.
? Stage 4: USPS won the rainy and slick team time trial by over a minute.
? Stages 12 and 13: The pace set by Lance?s teammates shattered all the pre-race favorites, with the exception of Ivan Basso. Finishing within one bike length of each other, the Italian won at La Mongie, Lance finished first at Plateau de Beille.
? Stage 15: Armstrong won a sprint finish ahead of Basso, Jan Ullrich, and Andreas Kl?den because he studied the corners in the final kilometer and knew he had to be first into the final left-hand corner in order to win.
? Stage 16: In the climbing individual time trial up the 21 switchbacks to Alp d?Huez, Lance caught and passed Basso for more than two minutes and won the stage by 61 seconds over Ullrich.
? Stage 17: The last day in the mountains, Lance tried to let teammate Floyd Landis take the stage. Once Landis was chased down, Lance took over and caught up to a flying Andreas Kl?den to sprint by him in the final meters for his third stage win in as many days.
? Stage 19: For the fifth time in six years, Armstrong won the final individual time trial, riding 34 miles in less than 67 minutes. He extended his lead in the yellow jersey to six minutes and 38 seconds and confirmed his sixth victory in the Tour de France.
Being completely prepared for competition has