In the end, the startling fact wasn't that Lance Armstrong won the 2004 Tour de France. The surprise was how masterfully he did it, casting off the pre-race contenders stage by stage and forcing the millions of French spectators to grant him due respect, and even a healthy dose of affection. He returned the favor on the podium, addressing the throngs in French. He also strongly praised his US Postal Service teammates. The familiar "Blue Train" never looked more formidable and efficient than in this year's Tour, its last under USPS sponsorship. This was one of the most thrilling Tours in years, with suspense building every day as to whether Armstrong would shatter one of the most revered records in cycling. That he accomplished that feat is now an historic fact of immense scope, and the full fabric of the achievement and the many smaller dramas of the 2004 Tour are all contained in this epic DVD. This is truly a "must-have" for any cycling collection! Armstrong not only won both time trials but three other stages as well, in stark contrast to 2003 when he faltered several times and barely beat Jan Ullrich by 61 seconds. This year Ullrich was expected to be an even stronger challenger but finished in fourth place, almost nine minutes behind Lance. Second place went to Ullrich's T-Mobile teammate, Andreas Klöden, who bumped Ivan Basso, an Italian with CSC, to third place in the next to last stage. Basso had been Armstrong's closest contender for most of the race. Other sterling efforts are captured here as well: Richard Virenque won his 7th King of the Mountain title, a record, and Aussie Robbie McEwen won the green points jersey for the second time in three years. It all came to a close on a picture-perfect Paris day. You can't ask for a better finish to an historic event!
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