Five-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong turned the third and final week of the world’s greatest cycle-race into a victory procession. As the week progressed it was difficult to tell if the Texan was simply too strong, or the opposition too feeble. After Monday’s rest day, Armstrong opened the throttle to pulverise the field and take not only the stage, but also the overall lead. Wednesday’s long-awaited Alpe d’Huez time-trial virtually sealed a record sixth victory as Armstrong charged up the mountain through a crowd of more than a million people, extending his advantage to almost four minutes over closest rival Ivan Basso.
On Thursday, the American underlined his complete domination of the race by taking the final mountain stage, his fourth of the current Tour, extending his lead to 4.09 minutes in the process. He took it easy on Friday, doing no more than covering his closest rivals, before ensuring that he would be crowned the greatest champion of all time on Sunday, by running away with Saturday’s 55km individual time trial. Armstrong entered the Champs-Elysee a massive 6.5 minutes ahead of his closest pursuer, Andreas Kloden, to claim a record sixth consecutive Tour de France victory in convincing fashion, a feat that had eluded former legends Miguel Indurain, Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Jaques Anquetil, the first five-time winner. Lance Armstrong is the greatest – that’s now official.