"Growing up in Plano, Texas, we weren't exactly steeped in Tour de France history," says Lance Armstrong, whose name has since become as synonymous with the race as Alpe d'Huez, Credit Lyonnais and the maillot jaune. Although he is not the first American to win the Tour (that distinction belongs to three-time winner Greg LeMond), Armstrong has educated the American public on the nuances of the three-week ride through the French countryside. From his first win in 1999--when, at 27, he returned to competitive cycling after overcoming testicular cancer--to his record sixth-consecutive win in 2004, Armstrong has morphed from a sweet human-interest story into an inspirational icon for the cancer community and a Tour de France legend. From grueling mountain ascents in the Pyrenees to triumphant rides down the Champs-�lys�es in Paris, Armstrong's six Tour triumphs are chronicled by SI writers over the following 34 pages. For us, it's been quite a ride as well.