Heavenly Ascent

As Lance Armstrong surged toward his second Tour de France win, Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen did what has become nearly impossible: he caught up to the defending champion in the mountains. Thomsen's piece appears in the July 24 issue of SI and selected excerpts accompany the following pictures of Armstrong's inspired ride.

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"What is a sacrifice?" Armstrong asks. "You suffer a little during a training ride, you suffer during a race, and I like that. I would be really upset if I never had the opportunity to suffer. I would go crazy."

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