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Learning English - Words in the News
 
26 July, 2004 - Published 12:38 GMT
 
Armstrong’s sixth race victory
 
Lance Armstrong

The big event of the cycling year, the Tour de France, has been won for a record sixth time by the American rider, Lance Armstrong. He crossed the finishing-line on the Champs Elysées in central Paris with an overall time several minutes quicker than his nearest rival. This report from Hugh Schofield:

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Crowds of Parisians and tourists - many Americans - lined the Champs Elysées to see the climax of the most prestigious and gruelling event in the cycling year. Lance Armstrong entered the capital wearing the leader's yellow jersey, protected by eight blue-clad riders from his US postal team; behind them, in glorious summer sunshine, the multi-coloured phalanx formed by the rest of the competitors.

All Armstrong had to do was to stay upright - his advance on the runner-up was unassailable - and in the middle of the field, he cruised over the finishing-line into sports history. His record six victories outstrips the greats of the past - Merckx, Anquetil, Hinault and Indurain. It's an extraordinary achievement for a man who conquered testicular cancer seven years ago.

It would be wrong to say that the French have taken him to their hearts - they prefer their sporting demigods more romantic and more French. But no one surely can now contest Lance Armstrong's claim to being one of the great athletes of the age.

Hugh Schofield, BBC, Paris

Listen to the words

lined
stood on both sides

climax
the point of greatest intensity or interest; a culmination

prestigious
having a good reputation, glamorous

gruelling
extremely demanding, hard work

phalanx
a compact mass of people

unassailable
impossible to beat or rival

outstrips
surpasses, beats, betters

conquered
won his fight against

taken him to their hearts liked him, felt fond of him
liked him, felt fond of him

demigods
people who are very popular and admired (literally, a demigod is a partly divine being)

 
 
 
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