Much has been made of Lance's shedding 15 pounds during treatment for testicular cancer in 1996. But the fact that he emerged from the experience with a leaner frame wasn't all due to the treatment. What really happened was that his smoldering inner fury flared up again and propelled him to try a new, sleeker racing form, to come back and win his first Tour, in 1999. "My main motivation for eating well was not because I had cancer," he says. "It was because I didn't want to be fat and get dropped on the climbs." And in that famous Armstrong fashion, he didn't just do it like the rest of us, by cutting his doughnut consumption; he got religious about it, weighing his portions on a digital scale and balancing his daily calorie input with his energy output. "I was more serious about my diet than ever before," he says. "I weighed the cereal, pasta, bread – everything."
"He was like a mathematician, with the calculator every day," his ex-wife, Kristin Armstrong, has said. "It was crazy, but it worked."
That attention to detail is something that Mr. Millimeter, as Lance's teammates call him, has since carried to extremes in all aspects of his Tour-winning campaigns. He, Carmichael, and team director Johan Bruyneel approach winning as if it were a military campaign, with a never-enough kind of discipline applied to everything from gear testing (in a wind tunnel, as if Lance were a new Porsche prototype) to reconnaissance (he rides critical portions of a race's course as many as a dozen times in the months preceding, memorizing every bump and bend) to team selection (last year he dropped a teammate who had helped him win the previous three Tours because he had found someone he thought could do a little bit better). "Lance is very organized and determined," says his onetime teammate Christian Vande Velde. "No matter what he's doing, he's going to do the best he can."