2012 yearender: Lance Armstrong leaves cycling picking up the pieces

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SummaryThe Tour de France icon that was Lance Armstrong finished 2012 with a reputation as arguably its greatest fraud.

Credited with one of the greatest comebacks in sport, the Tour de France icon that was Lance Armstrong finished 2012 with a reputation as arguably its greatest fraud.

By the end of yet another turbulent year, Bradley Wiggins joined Australian track star Anna Meares, Sir Chris Hoy and Dutchwoman Marianne Vos in offering some cheer to a sport left in disarray by the sport's biggest PR disaster.

Wiggins, the down-to-earth Londoner with a keen eye for music and the 'Mod' culture of the Sixties, followed his historic Tour de France triumph by winning Olympic time trial gold at his home Olympics.

"I cannot put it into words. I wouldn't do it justice," Wiggins said after adding that Olympic gold to the three had had previously won on the track for Britain.

As a federal investigation into Armstrong and his former team US Postal appeared to stall, other, more deserving champions emerged with Slovakian Peter Sagan winning three stages at the Tour de France, where he beat British sprint king Mark Cavendish to the coveted green jersey.

Cavendish, who in October was succeeded as world champion by Belgium's Philippe Gilbert, failed in his bid for Olympic road race gold, won in stylish fashion by controversial Kazakhstan rider Alexandre Vinokourov.

Britain, however, went on to make amends by winning seven of the 10 events at the London velodrome.

Sir Chris Hoy won two from the team sprint and keirin while Victoria Pendleton ended her career by losing her sprint title to Meares. The 36-year-old Scot cried tears of joy as he, too, waved goodbye to the Games with a sixth gold which allowed him to surpass former rower Sir Steve Redgrave's five-gold haul to become Britain's most successful Olympic champion.

"This is the perfect end to my Olympic career," said Hoy.

While Wiggins stands next in line for a possible knighthood, Armstrong will go down as the cancer survivor who cheated his way to global stardom and success and was brought down without failing a dope test.

The American maintains his yellow jersey victories were won cleanly, but as the list of former teammates confessing to drug-taking and/or seeing Armstrong take drugs grew, so did the case against the American.

Finally, the United State Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) charged the American with a number of serious doping offences.

When Armstrong announced on August 24 he would not contest those charges, the USADA virtually stripped him of his seven yellow jersey titles -- a decision

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