By John Sinnott and Tom McGowan, CNN
updated 9:26 AM EST, Tue January 15, 2013

(CNN) -- Lance Armstrong bestrode the sport of cycling like a colossus between 1999 and 2005. His feat of winning seven consecutive titles at the Tour de France -- arguably the world's toughest sporting event -- was like the demigod Hercules completing his "Twelve Labors."

Armstrong's achievements seemed all the more extraordinary given his against-the-odds recovery after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996.

His best-selling autobiography "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life" in 2000 helped give birth to the Armstrong legend, as it recounted his fight for life against a disease that had spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain before he underwent radical treatment and went on to win his first Tour in 1999.

This was a sporting story gave hope to millions across the world.

The Texan's battle with cancer led him to set up the Livestrong foundation in 1997, which according to its website has raised close to $500 million in the battle against the disease -- thanks in no small part to the charity's iconic yellow wristbands.

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