[Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 24, 2005.]
PARIS - Lance Armstrong closed out his amazing career with a seventh consecutive Tour de France victory Sunday - and did it a little earlier than expected.
Because of wet conditions, race organizers stopped the clock as Armstrong and the main pack entered Paris. Although riders were still racing, with eight laps of the Champs-Elysees to complete, organizers said that Armstrong had officially won.
The stage started as it has done for the past six years - with Armstrong wearing the race leader's yellow jersey. It ended the same way, too - with him celebrating, this time by a comfortable margin of more than 4 1/2 minutes.
One hand on his handlebars, the other holding a flute of champagne, Armstrong toasted his teammates as he pedaled into Paris to collect his crown. He held up seven fingers - one for each win - and a piece of paper with the number 7 on it.
When it was over, Armstrong saluted the race he's made his own.
"Vive le Tour, forever," he said.
The 33-year-old Texan choked up on the victory podium as he stood next to his twin 3-year-old daughters - dressed in bright yellow dresses, appropriately - and his son. His rock star girlfriend Sheryl Crow, wearing a yellow halter top, cried during the ceremony.
"This is the way he wanted to finish his career, so it's very emotional," she said.
Looking gaunt, his cheeks hollow after riding 2,232.7 miles across France and its mountains for three weeks, Armstrong still could smile at the end. He said President Bush called to congratulate him.Robert Laberge/Getty Images Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich shake hands after many years of classic battles that Lance, unfortunately for Jan, usually got the wins.
Armstrong's new record of seven wins confirmed him as one of the greatest cyclists ever, and capped a career where he came back from cancer to dominate cycling's most prestigious and taxing race.
Standing on the podium, against the backdrop of the Arc de Triomphe, Armstrong managed a rare feat in sports - going out on the top of his game. He previously said that his decision was final and that he was walking away with "absolutely no regrets."
Armstrong mentioned Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan and Andre Agassi as personal inspirations.