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Vive Le Tour

This column was written by CBS News Early Show Co-Anchor Harry Smith.
Starting tomorrow and for the next three weeks I will begin what has become a cherished summer ritual. With the Outdoor Life network on the television and my computer logged on to the Tour de France web site, I and millions of other people will be glued to every kilometer of Lance Armstrong's last tour.

I first met Armstrong the winter before his first tour win, and you will hate me for this -- I got to ride bikes with him. Armstrong had recovered from cancer and was in the first shaky stages of mounting a comeback. He'd won or performed well in a couple of races and as an old cycling fan I arranged to do a story of an athlete who had practically come back from the dead and was determined to dominate his sport.

Lance and I walked on the beach near Santa Barbara and he told me how cancer had moved through his entire body -- even into his brain. He had no tears in his eye, just a steely resolve to take advantage of every second of the life that had quite nearly been taken from him. Of course he won the tour that next summer, and he won again and again.

An unprecedented six consecutive victories in what I believe is the most demanding sporting event on the planet. During some of the stages over those six years I've shouted with joy and moaned in agony. Watching Armstrong race in the mountains is the greatest thing I've ever seen in sport.

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Hey, Lance, thanks for the ride.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith

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