July 28, 2003
The "big four", as they are dubbed in cycling circles, have all failed in their quest for a sixth success, mostly because they were beaten by an up and coming young rider.
Indurain lost to Dane Bjarne Riis in 1996, but the star of the Tour that year was young German Jan Ullrich.
Hinault was beaten in 1986 by young American Greg LeMond, while Merckx discovered his limits against Frenchman Bernard Thevenet.
Armstrong has pledged he will be better prepared next year than he was in this Tour, calling his condition "unacceptable".
"I'll return next year and not to finish second," he warned.
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