Armstrong, 28, won the 1999 Tour de France, the sport's showcase event, less than three years after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, which spread to his brain and lungs. Doctors had given him only about a 50 per cent chance of survival.
Eighteen sports journalists around the world were polled, and all of them chose the Texan. It was the first time there had been a unanimous winner. In second place was the German Jan Ullrich, who came one vote ahead of Belgium's Andrei Tchmil.
The Italian Marco Pantani was voted last year's top cyclist in the Velo poll, joining the likes of Miguel Indurain and Laurent Jalabert. "They are all great cyclists and it's a great honour to be added to that list," Armstrong said, adding that his illness inspired him on the gruelling course around France, including mountain stages in the Alps and the Pyrenees where he excelled and effectively assured himself of overall victory.