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Austin celebrates Armstrong’s sixth

Standing-room-only downtown pub crowds wildly cheered hometown hero Lance Armstrong here Sunday as the American captured a record sixth consecutive Tour de France. In an otherwise empty city center, the Texas capitol came alive in late morning as supporters watched live television coverage of the final stage of the epic showdown in sports bars. Cyclists in yellow jerseys glided down Fourth Street while a city bus, painted bright yellow, featured a portrait of Armstrong and the words, "Tour de Lance" while newspaper racks featured the phrase of the hour - "Go Lance Go!" At Fado, an Irish

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By Agence France Presse

Standing-room-only downtown pub crowds wildly cheered hometown hero Lance Armstrong here Sunday as the American captured a record sixth consecutive Tour de France.

In an otherwise empty city center, the Texas capitol came alive in late morning as supporters watched live television coverage of the final stage of the epic showdown in sports bars.

Cyclists in yellow jerseys glided down Fourth Street while a city bus, painted bright yellow, featured a portrait of Armstrong and the words, “Tour de Lance” while newspaper racks featured the phrase of the hour – “Go Lance Go!”

At Fado, an Irish pub, patrons clapped and screamed with joy as they watched Armstrong step to the top of the podium in Paris after completing his triumph.

“Give it up for Lance Armstrong,” a radio broadcaster yelled over the bar’s sound system to heavy applause. “You might not see that again.”

Boosters in yellow T-shirts lined up in the Texas heat for a chance to stand inside at the Lance party at the Fox and Hound bar.

Inside, viewer Jay Lenick said Armstrong’s comeback from testicular cancer that was diagnosed in 1996 has added to his national acclaim despite the small U.S. following for cycling compared to other sports.

“I think everybody should be attracted to that story and wants to be a part of it,” Lenick said.

Cheryl Asumendi, whose son began cycling in 1990, watched Armstrong win the 1995 and 1996 Tour DuPont, a now defunct U.S. stage race.

“I’ve been a big fan before people around here even knew who he was,” she said.

City officials want to give Armstrong a formal “Welcome Home”, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported, but said the celebration would wait until Armstrong completes a vacation with his children.

The city conducted a parade for Armstrong after his 1999 Tour triumph and a concert in 2001.

A crowd had gathered outside Ozone Bike Department earlier to watch a large-screen replay of Armstrong’s victory in the Tour’s penultimate stage.

Armstrong, a supporter of fellow Texan and US President George W. Bush, had been critical of his reception in France, where unproven accusations of doping have made headlines.

Austin is considered a relatively liberal part of conservative-leaning Texas but anti-French sentiment in the wake of French objections to the U.S.-led war in Iraq has led to strained feelings over the past year.

An “April in Paris” night at the University of Texas was canceled, according to the campus newspaper, and an antique-shop owner removed a miniature Eiffel Tower from his window after threats of vandalism.

Still, the only French bashing in sight among Armstrong’s revelers was a man with a yellow hand-lettered shirt that read “Lance 6, France 0.”