Cycling: Tour de France - Armstrong: I owe win to cancer

American on the verge of victory over rivals - and disease

LANCE ARMSTRONG put the final touch to his Tour de France triumph with an emphatic time trial victory that pushed his overall lead to more than seven and a half minutes on the eve of the Paris finale. The Texan, who was treated for cancer just two years ago, raced into the Futuroscope theme park, near Poitiers, averaging 50-kph, to claim his third time trial victory with a nine-second beating of Switzerland's Alex Zulle.

After the scandal-ravaged race of last year, this event has been a morale- booster for the Tour despite a spiteful media campaign against what will almost certainly be the first American winner since Greg LeMond nine years ago.

Yesterday, watched by his mother Linda in a following team car, Armstrong was fastest over a flat 57 kilometres. In clocking one hour, eight minutes, and 17 seconds, he caught Spain's Fernando Escartin who had started three minutes before him. Escartin was no match for the against-the-clock specialists, and lost his second overall position to Zulle, who had trailed Armstrong by 24 seconds 15km from the finish.

After a slow start, Armstrong's team-mate Tyler Hamilton sped into third place, in one minute and 35 seconds. Escartin lost four minutes to Armstrong, but clung to third overall place, 10 minutes and 26 seconds adrift.

After his Stage victory, Armstrong dedicated his probable success to the "cancer community". The 27-year-old Texan, who fought off a near-fatal cancer of the testicles two years ago, said that he returned a stronger rider after his disease. "The illness was a good thing for me. Of course, I wouldn't want to get back there. But the illness made me come back with a new perspective."

Unable to finish the Tour on three of his four previous attempts, Armstrong used to be dismissed as a one-day rider. But when he returned last year, after 18 months out of action, he was a changed competitor. "Before, I trained hard and I tried to be professional, but I did not deserve a 100 mark. After the illness, I trained much harder than before and I eliminated distractions and watched my diet."

Extra motivation also came from those who did not believe he could make it back. When his cancer was discovered, Armstrong had just signed with French team Cofidis. "When I was in the middle of my illness, three months later, they tried to break the contract," he said. "I have thought about them in the last three weeks. I can tell them now that I won the Tour."

Armstrong will not have done that until later today, but already he is the first rider since Spain's Miguel Indurain to win all three time-trials, and his current overall margin is bigger than anything achieved by the Spanish giant in his five Tour victories. Apart from the German Jan Ullrich's success by nine minutes and nine seconds in 1997, it is the biggest margin since 1984 when Laurent Fignon beat the fellow Frenchman Bernard Hinault by 10min 32sec.

The 27-year-old Texan took the prologue, the first time-trial over a similar distance in Metz two weeks ago, the first mountain stage in Sestriere and now this penultimate stage. Assuming he avoids injury or disaster on today's ride to the Champs-Elysees, Armstrong will be the first final winner since Laurent Fignon in 1984 to take four stages. The only time since the war a race leader has lost on the last day was in 1989, when LeMond won the second of his three Tour crowns, beating Fignon by eight seconds after a time trial on the Champs-Elysees.

Last week Armstrong took on the world. As if the hassle of the Tour de France was not enough, the American found himself warring with the French newspaper Le Monde. "M'sieur Le Monde, are you calling me a liar or a doper?" he snapped at a reporter who asked about the medical certificate that Armstrong supplied to the Tour medical team.

The Texan said that he had never taken anything when questioned about doping, then Le Monde revealed via a leaked medical report that traces of triamcinolone, a forbidden corticoid, were found in his sample. "I am being persecuted," he said. "The amount of corticoid was so minute that it was there one day and not the next. The traces are so small it has absolutely nothing to do with performance.

"When I was asked would I think of taking something, I thought of pills, inhalers and injections. I did not consider skin cream to be taking something. Maybe it was a mistake on my part." Corticoids are contained in medications for asthma, rhinitis and allergies, and riders are permitted these so long as they submit a medical certificate to the Union Cycliste Internationale.

Armstrong could be suing Le Monde over their insinuations, which his team decided to shoot down by asking the UCI to break their code of silence on test results. The UCI agreed that this was an exceptional circumstance, and that without prejudicing the unconditional guarantee of confidentiality they made to riders, they would reveal that Armstrong had used a brand called Cemalyt. This is a pomade for skin allergies, and contains triamcinolone, and the UCI stated that they had received a medical certificate.

Le Monde's story alleged erroneously that Armstrong's test showed a ratio of 0.2. There is, however, no such measure for corticoids, only steroids. The French anti-doping laboratory claimed that all those tested had traces of corticoids, but all had medical certificates.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

QA Manager - North Manchester - Nuclear & MOD - £40k+

£35000 - £41000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: QA Manager -...

Property Finance Partner

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: LONDON - BANKING / PROPERTY FINANCE - ...

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on