Lance Armstrong has been voted the 2009 Legend of the Year. The seven-time Tour de France winner defied the odds to come back after a three-year layoff to finish third in the Tour de France.
It was the fourth Legend title for the now 38-year-old American. Cyclingnews readers previously voted him to the top in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
Armstrong brought in 9012 votes, with the late Frank Vandenbroucke receiving 1524 votes. Third was American Kristin Armstrong, with 1230 votes.
In January 2009 Armstrong returned to professional racing for the first time since July 2005. He opened the season with highly publicised appearances in the Tour Down Under and the Tour of California.
His stated goal for returning after so much time was to raise awareness of cancer, and while Armstrong was riding well enough in the early part of the season, things nearly derailed when he broke a collarbone at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon at the end of March.
But Armstrong lived up to his reputation as a fighter and came back to ride his first Giro d'Italia. He struggled in the mountain stages and didn't do as well as expected in the time trials, but still finished a more than respectable 12th overall. However, during the race the American refused to talk to the media on several occasions.
His plans for another Tour win came to nothing, with teammate Alberto Contador winning in imperious fashion.
Once again, Armstrong showed weaknesses in both the mountains and the time trials, his two previous specialities. But despite this, he was able to put in an impressive performance which saw him reach the third step of the podium in Paris.
Armstrong also came back to cycling vowing to show transparency. He initially teamed up with Don Catlin but the partnership never took off and Armstrong agreed to post his blood values online. However these were later removed.
Second-placed Vandenbroucke passed away in October, after a trouble-filled life. He rode for 11 teams in his 15-year career, and was dogged by personal problems and rumours of drug use for his entire career. His biggest wins included Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Omloop Het Volk in 1999, and Gent-Wevelgem and Paris-Nice in 1998.
Third place went to Kristin Armstrong. She was voted best female rider of the year this year, her last year in the peloton. At age 36, she closed out her career with strong results all season. She topped things off by taking the World time trial title in Mendrisio.
Cyclingnews 2009 Reader Poll results – Legend of Cycling
1. Lance Armstrong: 9012
2. Frank Vandenbroucke: 1524
3. Kristin Armstrong: 1230
4. Magnus Backstedt: 750
5. Steve Peat: 586
6. Chris Eatough: 451
7. Bruno Risi: 298
8. Erwin Vervecken: 219