Texan Lance Armstrong is dominating a contest Europeans consider a birthright -and that's only half his story.
In one of the biggest fairy tales the Tour de France has ever seen, CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth reports Armstrong's not only winning the race, but also his fight against cancer.
Halfway through the 2,300 mile race against time and terrain, 27-year-old Armstrong is leader of the pack.
"I'm surprised," he says. "I'm happy. But at the same time, I know I've done that hard work. I was lucky too, to get a cure."
Just two years ago, Armstrong was still undergoing chemotherapy treatment for testicular cancer. The disease had spread to his lungs and his brain; his racing career, and perhaps his life, seemed over.
He's riding for Americans because no European team would take him after the illness. Driven now to win the race and prove a point, he hasn't just recovered, he's better than ever.
He says "to show that it's possible is most of my ambition. To get revenge on the sport and the people that didn't trust me or didn't believe in me is also part of it."
His successful climb through some of the toughest terrain on the course has brought another burden: becoming a hero in a sporting event that badly needed one.
Last year's tour was scandalized by arrests and expulsions over drugs in the sport. Now that Armstrong's in the headlines, it's a different story.
"All the scandals of the drugs last year really ripped apart the Tour de France," says former champion Greg LeMond. "I think it's saving the Tour De France, really."
With 10 days left in the race anything can happen, but the distance Armstrong has on the competition is no measure at all of what he's already won.
Copyright 1999 CBS. All rights reserved.
CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff