"Those are guys that you look up to you, guys that have been at the top of their game for a long time," he said.
As for his accomplishments, he said, "I can't be in charge of dictating what it says or how you remember it."
"In five, 10, 15, 20 years, we'll see what the legacy is. But I think we did come along and revolutionize the cycling part, the training part, the equipment part. We're fanatics."
Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan eventually won the final stage, with Armstrong finishing safely in the pack to win the Tour by more than 4 minutes, 40 seconds over Ivan Basso of Italy. The 1997 Tour winner, Jan Ullrich, was third, 6:21 back.Javier Soriano/AFP/Getty Images Alexandre Vinokourov got the big stage win in Paris.
"It's up to you guys," Armstrong said, forecasting the Tour future.
Armstrong's sixth win last year already set a record, putting Armstrong ahead of four other riders - Frenchmen Jacques Anquetil and Bernard Hinault, Belgian Eddy Merckx and Spaniard Miguel Indurain - who all won five Tours.
Along the way, he brought unprecedented attention to the sport, and won over many who had dismissed it.
"Finally, the last thing I'll say for the people who don't believe in cycling - the cynics, the skeptics - I'm sorry for you," Armstrong said. "I'm sorry you can't dream big and I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles. But this is one hell of a race, this is a great sporting event and you should stand around and believe."
Armstrong's last ride as a professional - the closing 89.8-mile 21st stage into Paris from Corbeil-Essonnes south of the capital - was not without incident.
Three of his teammates slipped and crashed on the rain-slicked pavement coming around a bend just before they crossed the River Seine. Armstrong, right behind them, braked and skidded into the fallen riders.