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Lance Armstrong Wins Tour de France - 2001-07-29

Cyclist Lance Armstrong coasted to victory in the Tour de France, becoming the first American to win the prestigious French race three consecutive times.

Lance Armstrong's win was almost a foregone conclusion. From the start, the 29-year-old Texan has dominated the three-week, 3,454 kilometer Tour de France.

Armstrong wrapped up the final 160 kilometer stretch from the town of Corbeil Essons to Paris, with loops around the Arc-de-Triomph. Wearing the trademark yellow leader's jersey, the biker accepted congratulations from Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, along with a trophy and a bouquet of yellow roses.

Later, in halting French, he said the third Tour de France victory was the easiest.

Armstrong told French television there were bad days, when he was several minutes below his optimum times. But he said the race generally went well.

The American cyclist completed the Tour in 86 hours, 17 minutes and 28 seconds. German cyclist Jan Ullrich placed second in overall standings, trailing Armstrong by six, 44 seconds. Spaniard Joseba Beloki placed third. Another German, Erick Zabel, captured the green jersey, awarded to the best sprinter.

The Tour began July 7 in the northern French city of Dunkerque. The cyclists then headed southeast, past the southern Mediterranean city of Perpignan, before turning back north.

A cyclist who excells in mountainous terrain, Armstrong mounted powerful races through the French Alps and Pyrenees. But the American was also dogged by allegation he used illegal, performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong has strongly denied those accusations.