Originally created 12/03/99

Cyclist Armstrong wins Cyclist of the Year



PARIS -- American cyclist Lance Armstrong is the first unanimous winner of the Cyclist of the Year award in a poll of international sports writers by the French cycling magazine Velo.

Armstrong, 28, won the 1999 Tour de France, the sport's showcase event, less than three years after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, which had spread to his brain and lungs. Doctors had given him only about a 50 percent chance of survival.

Eighteen sports writers from across the world were polled, and all of them gave the Texan the nod. Germany's Jan Ullrich was second, one vote ahead of Belgium's Andrei Tchmil. Results are in the December issue.

"They are all great cyclists and it's a great honor to be added to that list" Armstrong said in an interview with Velo.

He said his illness inspired him on the grueling course around France, including mountain stages in the Alps and the Pyrenees where he excelled and effectively assured himself of overall victory.

"I would never have won the Tour de France if I hadn't had cancer -- that's for certain," he was quoted as saying. "I would never have been as serious and rigorous as I am now. I need to remember what I've been through to maintain my standards."