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Lance Armstrong Biography

Saw His Future In Grueling Race, Coach Tried To Rein Him In, Chronology, Cocky But Unable To Go The DistanceSELECTED WRITINGS BY ARMSTRONG:


American cyclist

Cancer was arguably the best thing that ever happened to Lance Armstrong. The world champion cyclist's career can be divided into two distinct periods: pre- and post-cancer. In the first, he was a brash young rider who won by sheer force and drive, but who did so arrogantly and without respect for his sport. After beating the odds and surviving testicular cancer, Armstrong came back to racing a humbled and thoughtful rider who channeled his energies, learned to depend on his team, and won an astonishing four grueling Tour de France races.

Armstrong was born September 18, 1971 near Dallas, Texas. His mother Linda, a secretary, was just seventeen years old when he was born, and her husband, Gunderson, left the family when Lance was two. When Linda got a better job, mother and son moved from a low-income suburb of Dallas and bought a home in Plano, Texas. Linda's second husband, Terry Armstrong, was a born-again Christian and strict disciplinarian who could not tolerate the rambunctious nature of a growing boy. Lance never bonded with his adoptive father. His mother, with whom he remains very close, was always his greatest influence.

In addition to an adversarial relationship with his stepfather, Armstrong did not fit in in Plano, where kids who were football players and whose parents had money were in favor, and he was neither. In fifth grade, he found a way to channel some of his energy and angst when he won a distance-running race at school. He then started swimming at the City of Plano Swim Club, where, after a rocky start, he found a place where he fit in. Because of his lack of skill the twelve-year-old was assigned to a class of seven-year-olds, but Armstrong swallowed his pride and soon began to swim quite well. Under the guidance of coach Chris MacCurdy, he started to train, swim, and win competitively. At age thirteen, he was riding his bike twenty miles every day to and from school and swim practice, which started at 5:30 in the morning and met again after school.


(With Sally Jenkins) It's Not About the Bike, Berkley Books, 2001.

Sketch by Brenna Sanchez

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