Six!

07-25-04.six.jpg

I haven't watched the final stages yet, but it's impossible not to see the news. Armstrong won his sixth, a victory that was much more dominant than his fifth as he won five individual stages plus the team time trial. No one came close to him this year, and Armstrong now goes into the record books as the only Tour rider to win six Tour de Frances, let alone six in a row.

For me, the turning point was stage 13. Stage 12 was the setup, it gave you hints as to who the competitors were and weren't, but it wasn't yet decisive -- the time gaps were still small enough to keep the field open. Stage 13 blew everything apart; it demonstrated every way in which Armstrong and US Postal were more dominant and how they would go on to win 5 of the last 8 stages: their team was stronger, able to control the front of the race and set a crushing tempo on the mountains; Armstrong, Azevedo, and Landis were a lethal trio, owning the final leg of the race; Armstrong was stronger in the final 500m, able to outsprint all those who survived.

Six straight victories. Three week long races. Crashes, near crashes, sickness, six years of wear and tear, and still six straight victories.

related articles: Tour de France 2004