Born as Lance Edward Gunderson on September 18th of 1971 in Plano Texas, Lance got the name Armstrong from his stepfather who adopted him in 1974. Of course Lance became famous as a professional road racing cyclist starting his racing career at the age of 12 when he won his first adult competition. In his early years Armstrong was actually a tri-athlete ranked number one in the 87-88 season as a teenager. He then became a pro tri-athlete and from 89-90 was a champion in the triathlon type known as “sprint course”.
Lance Armstrong is perhaps most popular for his races in the Tour de France which he won seven times in a row from 99-2005 breaking the record previously held by Miguel Indurian who had won 5 times in a row. In 1999 Armstrong was recognized by ABC as the Sports Athlete Of The Year. Three years later he was named sportsman of the year in 2002 by Sports Illustrated magazine. He was also named the Male Athlete Of The Year by AP from 2002-2005.
After the testicular cancer he developed spread to his brain, abdomen, and lungs in 1996, Armstrong underwent testicular surgery as well as brain surgery due to the cancer being diagnosed as third stage. He was only given a three percent chance to live and decided to go with chemotherapy which he underwent while continuing to train for cycling. After his remarkable recovery Lance started the Lance Armstrong Foundation in 1997 followed by the well known “Live Strong” yellow rubber bracelets in 2004.
After three years out of the cycling world he returned to win the Tour de France beating Alex Zulle by 7 minutes and 37 seconds. In the year 2000 Armstrong faced Marco Pantani and Jan Ullrich, two well known competitors he had longed to race with and he defeated them by a little more than 6 minutes. After his years of consecutive wins many accused him of taking performance enhancing drugs but the fact of the matter is that it was his body’s natural response to fighting off the cancer he had that changed the physiology of his body.
The fact of the matter is that he specifically trained for the Tour de France and did not compete in other races, this allowed him to train for six months at a time trained by Chris Carmichael, a former cyclist, for each Tour de France, a luxury that his competitors did not have.
Armstrong’s high tolerance to lactic acid buildup which allowed him a higher cadence in lower gears and his higher than average aerobic threshold are also factors that contributed to his unprecedented success. Of significance is the low lactate levels in his body which is a very unusual physical trait and one that has helped him to remain at the top of his sport.