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At 16, Armstrong became a professional triathlete—he was the national sprint-course triathlon champion in 19. Olympic development team invited him to train in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Soon after, Armstrong chose to focus on cycling, his strongest event as well as his favorite. Armstrong left high school temporarily to do so, but later took private classes and received his high school diploma in 1989. national amateur champion and beat out many professional cyclists to win two major races, the First Union Grand Prix and the Thrift Drug Classic.

As the leader of the Motorola team, he overcame difficult conditions—pouring rain made the roads slick and caused him to crash twice during the race—to become the youngest person and only the second American ever to win that contest.

The following year, he was again the runner-up at the Tour Du Pont.

Armstrong was back in top form to claim his record-breaking sixth Tour win in 2004.

He won five individual stages, finishing a comfortable six minutes and 19 seconds ahead of Germany's Andreas Kloden.

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At the Tour Du Pont in 1996, he set several event records, including largest margin of victory (three minutes, 15 seconds) and fastest average speed in a time trial (32.9 miles per hour).

Though he won the eighth stage of the race, he later fell to 62nd place and eventually pulled out.

In August 1993, the 21-year-old Armstrong won his most important race yet: the World Road Race Championship in Oslo, Norway, a one-day event covering 161 miles.

A little over a year later, he capped his comeback in grand style by becoming the second American, after Greg Le Mond, to win the Tour de France.

He repeated that feat in July 2000, and followed with a bronze medal at the Summer Olympic Games.