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Austin power

Armstrong's victory inspires fans back home

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Posted: Monday July 26, 1999 10:45 AM

  Lance Armstrong Lance Armstrong's mother Linda is one fan from Austin that is proud of his win of the Tour de France. Tom Able Green/Allsport

AUSTIN, Texas (CNN/SI) -- Thousands of miles away, Texans were searching for any information they could find on Lance Armstrong's victory in Paris.

Karl Haussmann followed the Texan's triumph on the Internet

"God this is cool," said Haussmann, director of Armstrong's cancer research foundation. "This is amazing. It's Lance, it's the comeback, it's history."

Haussman was in his office by 8 a.m. CDT Sunday. The European broadcast of a series of still photos from the race was sometimes fuzzy and digitally mangled. But it would take more than that to spoil Haussmann's day.

When the race started July 3, few thought Armstrong could win cycling's most prestigious and rugged race. After all, the 27-year-old rider from Austin was recovering from testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain,

Now, Armstrong has done it. He won in Paris by 7 minutes, 37 seconds, and his adopted hometown was preparing to celebrate.

"Sweet. It's a done deal," Haussmann said when images of Armstrong on the winner's podium appeared on his screen.

"Even though it was kind of anticlimactic because he had such a big lead, I still got an adrenaline rush -- my heart beating faster -- thinking about him leading the race and crossing the finish line," Haussmann said.

Armstrong was diagnosed with cancer in 1996. He had surgery to remove a testicle and lesions from his brain. He underwent months of chemotherapy. His doctors say there is a tiny chance the cancer will return.

"This is a guy who we saw with no hair, lying in bed barely able to move after brain surgery, and now he's won cycling's greatest race," Haussmann said.

The only other American to win the Tour de France was Greg LeMond, a three-time champion whose last victory came in 1990.

By early Sunday, someone had left a basket of flowers on the doorstep of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

"Keep rolling Lance," read one of several messages on the card. "You are an inspiration."

With no live television broadcast of the race's final stage into Paris, Austin's big parties were to coincide with ABC's showing of taped footage Sunday afternoon.

Organizers expected hundreds to attend a celebration at a downtown brewery where everyone was asked to wear yellow, the signature color of the race leader.

Armstrong lives part of the year in Austin and Nice, France. He will fly to New York this week for interviews before returning to France to make several exhibition appearances, the Austin American-Statesman reported Sunday.

Armstrong will return to Austin on Aug. 10, said his agent, Bill Stapleton.

The city is planning a parade and downtown festival upon Armstrong's return, said Mayor Kirk Watson, himself a testicular cancer survivor.

"It's going to be emotional," he said.


 
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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