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However, he was able to compete for only five days in the Tour de France.In the 1996 Olympic Games, he finished 6th in the time trial and 12th in the road race.His successes in Europe occurred when he placed second in Liège–Bastogne–Liège and the Clásica de San Sebastián, where just two years before, he had finished in last place as his first all-pro event in Europe.He won the Clásica de San Sebastián in 1995, followed by an overall victory in the penultimate Tour Du Pont and a handful of stage victories in Europe, including the stage to Limoges in the Tour de France, three days after the death of his teammate Fabio Casartelli, who crashed on the descent of the Col de Portet d'Aspet on the 15th stage. He became the first American to win the La Flèche Wallonne and again won the Tour Du Pont.In the aftermath of his fall from grace, a CNN article wrote that "The epic downfall of cycling's star, once an idolized icon of millions around the globe, stands out in the history of professional sports." He was named after Lance Rentzel, a Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. The next year, his mother married Terry Keith Armstrong, a wholesale salesman, who adopted Lance that year. At the age of 12, Armstrong started his sporting career as a swimmer at the City of Plano Swim Club and finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle.
In 1992, Armstrong began his career as a professional cyclist with the Motorola team.
In the 1987–1988 Tri-Fed/Texas ("Tri-Fed" was the former name of USA Triathlon), Armstrong was ranked the number-one triathlete in the 19-and-under group; second place was Chann Mc Rae, who became a US Postal Service cycling teammate and the 2002 USPRO national champion.
Armstrong's total points in 1987 as an amateur were better than those of five professionals ranked higher than he was that year.
However, in 2012, he was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life as a result of long-term doping offenses.
As part of those sanctions, all results going back to August 1998, including his seven Tour wins, were voided.