By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated July 30, 2001 04:48 PM
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America’s Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France for the third successive year on Sunday, joining an elite band of hat-trick winners and confirming his place in cycling history. “This is a good time to be Lance Armstrong,” the 29-year-old testicular cancer survivor told reporters in Paris on Sunday. His total time of 86 hours 17 minutes 28 seconds was the third-fastest Tour in the 88-year history of the race. “I believe I’m entering my best years. For a 29- or 30-year-old, it’s logical to believe that for a three-week race like the Tour, those are my best years.” Armstrong, who won in 1999 and 2000, this year safely negotiated 10 laps of the cobbled Champs-Elysees at the end of Sunday’s 20th stage to retain his lead of six minutes 44 seconds over Germany’s Jan Ullrich. Armstrong delivered no victory salute as he crossed the finish line, but after hearing “The Star-Spangled Banner” played in his honor, he admitted, “It’s one of the most beautiful, most powerful feelings. I love my job.”