Armstrong closes out career with win

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 29, 2005


- One last time, ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' rang out over the Champs-Elysees in honor of Lance Armstrong.

One last time, on the podium against the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe, the cancer survivor who became the greatest cyclist in Tour de France history slipped into the leader's yellow jersey Sunday. This time, it was the winner's jersey, for an unprecedented seventh consecutive year in the world's most grueling race.

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He held his yellow cap over his heart as the American anthem played, and his twin 3-year-old daughters, Grace and Isabelle, wore matching yellow dresses.

''Vive le Tour! Forever,'' Armstrong said.

Vive Lance, the once but not future champion.

It was the end of Armstrong's amazing career, and in retiring a winner he achieved a rare feat in sports - going out on top. He said his decision was final and that he walks away with no regrets.

''I'm finished,'' Armstrong told a motorcycle-borne TV reporter as he rode a victory lap of the Champs-Elysees, waving to the crowds and accompanied by another rider waving the Stars and Stripes.