Four riders before Lance Armstrong, five-time and last year's winner, won five Tour de France victories but none could make it six. This is how they missed out on a sixth victory:
Jaaques Aanquetil, 1966
Anquetil, who had missed the Tour in 1965, returned in a bid to make it six.
Suffering from bronchitis, the Frenchman worked as a teammate for future winner Lucien Aimar and made sure his arch-rival Raymond Poulidor, the favorite that year, did not win.
Second behind Poulidor in a mountain stage in Briancon and in the main time trial of the Tour in Vals-les-Bains, Anquetil called it quits in the 19th stage between Chamonix and St Etienne, at the age of 33.
"I'm more embarrassing than useful now," he said.
The 1966 Tour was also marked by the first anti-doping tests, which led the riders to go on strike.
Eddy Merckx, 1975
Merckx, "The Cannibal", was world champion. He had won three major classics -- Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Liege-Bastogne-Liege -- and was apparently invincible in the Tour.
The Belgian, aged 30, dominated the race until the 14th stage up the Puy de Dome, when he was hit in the chest by a spectator.
Unheralded Frenchman Bernard Thevenet, a former farm hand, moved up to only 58 seconds behind him.
In the next stage in the Alps, Thevenet attacked six times but Merckx refused to surrender. On the final climb to Pra Loup, Thevenet dropped the five-times Tour winner and won the stage with a 1:56 lead over the Belgian.
The next day in the Izoard pass, Merckx lost ground once and for all and admitted Thevenet was too good.
The Cannibal returned for a last time in 1977 to finish sixth.
Bernard Hinault, 1986
After his fifth win in 1985, Hinault had promised his team boss, rising entrepreneur Bernard Tapie, that he would help team mate Greg LeMond to win the following year.
He outshone the American by 44 seconds in the first time trial and raised doubts about his sincerity when he attacked in the Pyrenees between Bayonne and Pau, leaving LeMond four minutes adrift.
The Frenchman struck again the next day between Pau and Superbagneres but LeMond reacted and made up most of the lost ground.
A truce was declared. Hinault led the way for LeMond in the climb to l'Alpe d'Huez and the two riders crossed the line hand in hand.
A superb yet controversial passing of the baton.
Miguel Indurain, 1996
After an unprecedented run of five successive Tour victories, Indurain was again the favorite.
But nobody suspected how weary the aloof Spaniard was and how vastly improved were the Telekom and Festina teams led by Dane Bjarne Riis and Frenchman Richard Virenque.
Indurain struggled in the Alps and collapsed at home in the Pyrenees, losing eight minutes 30 seconds to Riis, who had been third behind him the year before.
Riis, 32, seized the chance of a lifetime but the 1996 Tour sensation was his young German team mate Jan Ullrich, 22, who finished second.
Indurain finished 11th and retired the following season.