Silly question, huh? But silly in which direction? After all, there are 9.6 million cancer survivors in the U.S. but only one person with seven yellow jerseys hanging in his closet.
Cancer's five-year survival rate is 64 percent; the odds of drinking champagne while pedaling down the Champs-Elysees for seven straight Julys are astronomical.
Or rather, Armstrongnomical.
Of course, one variable exists that makes LanceArmstrong's successful battle with advanced testicular cancer more important than anything he has ever achieved in France: If he doesn't win that fight -- less than 50/50 at the time of his diagnosis in October, 1996, the cancer having spread to his lungs and brain -- he doesn't live to win anything else.
But what if Armstrong never had cancer, never had to miss the '97 and '98 tours? Would Sunday's victory be No. 9? Would Armstrong have delayed his retirement one more year so he could reach double figures in wins?
After all, 10 is a nice round number -- and twice as much as the next man on the list, Miguel Indurain.
Should we assume that Armstrong's coronation as the king of cycling was inevitable? Back before his diagnosis, he was ranked among the world's best, having won a couple of Tour de France stages (in '93 and '95). But he failed to finish the Tour in '93, '94 and '96, and placed just 36th in 1995. Greatness, while predicted, had not yet been obtained.
Perhaps Armstrong would not have won even one yellow jersey, much less seven, without having to first deal with his life-or-death crisis. Beating cancer certainly gave him a perspective his main competitors could not share. No doubt it made him work a little harder, dig a little deeper those three weeks every summer in France. While others felt pain during a climb up the Pyrenees, did Armstrong consider it a reward for living?
In sports, motivation comes in various forms. An opponent's quote on a blackboard. Revenge for a previous loss. Criticism from the media. Simply wanting to do your best, beat your opponent, win a title, call yourself champ.
But tragedy -- or rather, overcoming tragic circumstances -- may well be the greatest motivational tool of all time. Armstrong, staring at his own mortality, survived. Then thrived. He learned something about the importance of life, of making the most out of each day.
No wonder Armstrong says that his cancer was "the best thing that ever happened to me."
He has made the most out of his seven years in France. For those 21 weeks, 142 stages and 15,205 miles since 1999, he's been at the top of his -- and everyone else's -- game. But for all of Armstrong's historic achievements, the kicker part is this: It's nowhere near as important as what he might accomplish in the future.