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Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France on Sunday for an unprecedented sixth time to become the most successful athlete in the race's 101-year history, and one of the greatest athletes of all time.

The Texan, who overcame testicular cancer before his first Tour win in 1999, eclipsed Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain, the five-time winners of the sport's most prestigious race.

The 32-year-old, the oldest winner for 24 years, completed the three-week race with a winning margin of six minutes and 38 seconds over Andreas Kloden of Germany.

Armstrong, who won a career-best five stages, said he may return in 2005.

"Not to make history, or to make money, but just for the thrill of getting on my bike and racing 200 other guys," he told reporters.

President Bush, who watched the end of the race at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, called Armstrong to tell him "the country was proud of him," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

"You're awesome," Buchan quoted the president as saying.

Armstrong, after finishing Sunday's 20th stage on Paris' Avenue des Champs-Elysees, counted the victories on his fingers.

"It might take years, I don't know," Armstrong said. "It hasn't sunk in yet."

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