November 01, 1999 12:00 PM

If life were a time trial in the Tour de France, little Luke David Armstrong would already be a winner. After all, not due to be born until Oct. 25, he made his appearance, happy, healthy and weighing 7 lbs. 9 ozs., on Oct. 12.

“I was so excited,” says new father Lance Armstrong, 28, who was at the Dallas airport talking on the phone with his wife, Kristin, as he headed home from a speaking engagement in Las Vegas, when she suggested he hurry: The contractions were coming five minutes apart.

Flying on to Austin and driving the 15 miles from the airport to their home “at probably twice the speed limit,” Armstrong arrived in time to take Kristin to St. David’s Hospital, where Luke David—”We both just liked the name Luke,” says Kristin, 28, “and David is my father’s name”—was born at 2:30 a.m.

That Armstrong was there to hold his new son was testimony to more than just his driving skill. Diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996, Armstrong, America’s top bicycle racer, was given just a 40 percent chance of survival. Last July, however, free of cancer after undergoing chemotherapy and surgery, he won the 21-day Tour de France, bicycling’s most grueling test. Though he was single when he fell ill, he had the foresight to put his sperm in storage before starting treatment. Seven months after their wedding in May 1998, Kristin began the in vitro process—the result of which is now being burped by his dad.

“He can do exactly what he wants to do in life—whether it’s ride a bike, play the trumpet, whatever,” says Armstrong proudly. “As long as he does his best.”

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