Pedaling strong through the Pyrenees Mountains at remarkable speed, Lance Armstrong approached the tenth stage of the Tour de France. Beginning at an elevation of thirty-three feet above sea level, Armstrong was in sixteenth position with five minutes and fifty-four seconds separating him and the leader. For many this would be an insurmountable amount of time to makeup, especially on a stage containing such a grueling and exhausting climb, but Armstrong saw it as an opportunity to put his great mountain-climbing skills to work (Stein 60). Pacing himself through the majority of the stage, he remained well behind the leader. Then it happened; he reached the horrendous Mount Hautacam, and began his "eight-mile sprint through the rain and up the Pyrenees" (Thomsen 45; Stein 60).
Each mountain throughout the tour is given a number to rate its steepness, with one being the steepest (Murphy 38). The most grueling climb in Stage 10, Mount Hautacam, was ranked "hors de categorie," meaning the ascent to the top is so steep it cannot be appointed a specific number (Thomsen 42). It is "the Tour's way of saying, You [sic] don't want to know" (Murphy 38).
One by one, Lance picked away at his competitors, leaving them with nothing but exhaustion. After a punishing climb of 4,954 feet over one hundred twenty-seven miles,
Armstrong finished Stage 10 with an overall first place. Creating a four minute and fourteen second margin between him and the previous leader, Armstrong had gained a total of more than ten minutes during the most grueling stage throughout the entire Tour de France (Stein 60). He then raced through the remaining stages with great momentum and victoriously broke across the finish line on July 23, 2000 for the second consecutive time since his diagnosis of cancer (Sterling 2; "Armstrong, Lance").
This accomplishment would be remarkable for anyone, but for a cancer survivor to attain such a feat is extraordinary. Lance Armstrong is indeed an extraordinary human being. He has achieved tremendous heights not only in the highly competitive world of cycling but also in common, everyday life. To many he is a champion, to others a role model, but no matter how he's viewed, he is an inspiration to everyone. After being diagnosed with cancer, Lance Armstrong fought back courageously and showed the world what a true hero really is.
Throughout the year of 1996, Lance Armstrong experienced some unusual soreness and abnormalities but blew them off, thinking they were just results of his hard training and busy schedule. The initial sign of cancer began with an inflamed right testicle, which Armstrong brushed off believing it was irritated from either his bicycle seat or a "male thing." Despite the pain, his cycling was going extremely well, possibly as good as ever. With things going so well, there was no way he was going to let anything slow him down or get in the way of his success, so he continued riding. Armstrong ignored and overlooked...