Lance Armstrong showed he still had the “spirit of a fighter” yesterday, leaving many of his young rivals trailing during the grueling 199.5-kilometer 16th stage of the Tour de France.
The 38-year-old, competing for the last time at the Tour where he won a record seven titles, attacked almost from the gun as he climbed the passes of Peyresourde, Aspin, Tourmalet and Aubisque before finishing sixth.
With his locket swinging around his bare chest as he gasped for air during the punishing ascents, Armstrong led the way for most of the day but was eventually overtaken as he closed in on the finishing line.
“I’m alive. I trained hard. I’m not the best guy in the race, but still have the spirit of a fighter,” Armstrong said.
Yellow jersey holder Alberto Contador, Armstrong’s fierce rival last year, said he would have liked his former team mate to win the stage.
“It reminded me the old Armstrong,” he said. “I would have been pleased if he had won.”