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8. Lance Armstrong

Now we know. We know that Armstrong was doping during all of those stunning performances in the Alps and Pyrénées of the Tour de France. We know he was operating on synthetic jet fuel that took any natural gifts he had and turned them into supernatural spectacles.

But, if we believe him, so, too, were all of his rivals. If Marco Pantani makes this list for his climbing panache, Armstrong makes it for his precise application of power.

Upon his return to cycling after cancer, Armstrong developed a high-cadence, fury-of-legs pedaling style that baffled his opponents, and left them in his wake. He was as meticulous about his equipment choices — from gear ratios to lightweight materials — as he was about his need for control. That control came in the form of a dominating team that would methodically ratchet up the pace in the high mountains until nearly everyone was distanced.

Armstrong's performances at the Tour were once legendary — from his duel in 2000 with Pantani on Mont Ventoux and “the gift” he granted him at the line, to “the look” he gave Jan Ullrich on l’Alpe d’Huez in 2001, to his comeback assault after hooking his bar in the strap of a musette bag on Luz Ardiden in 2003. Of course, each of those performances is now forever tainted by his admission to doping. But they will live on in our memories forever, as emphatic demonstrations of Armstrong's legendary climbing prowess. Photo: Joel Saget | AFP