The victory can be expected to propel Armstrong’s name and the cause of cycling, both previously little followed in the United States, to new levels of recognition. Already a victory parade in his hometown of Austin awaits, as well as a high-profile round of television and commercial appearances. In fact, Nike ads have begun airing touting Armstrong as the "first dead man" to win the Tour de France, a slogan the cyclist reportedly loves. Most important, though, Armstrong has demonstrated to cancer patients around the world that the dreaded disease can be vanquished — and then some. "The message is that even a serious disease is not always totally devastating," says Golden. And that good medicine and staying fit can be an unbeatable combination.
Talk about bouncing back. On Sunday — three years after having been diagnosed with testicular cancer and subsequently undergoing four rounds of chemotherapy and two operations — 27-year-old Texan Lance Armstrong rode triumphantly into Paris to become only the second American to win international cycling’s biggest race: the Tour de France. "What a compliment to his courage and to his doctors!" says TIME science contributor Fred Golden. "This is one of the most strenuous activities around." Armstrong, who had a hard time convincing any sponsors except the fledgling U.S. Postal Service team that he had it in him, finished the race with a colossal 7-minute-and-37-second lead over his closest rival.