Tour de France
The 85th Tour de France (July 12-August 2) ran 21 stages plus a prologue, covering just over 2,400 miles starting in Dublin, Ireland, passing through the Pyrenees and the Alps and finishing on the Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris.
Italy's Marco Pantani, a.k.a “The Pirate” became the first Italian Tour champion since 1965. He overtook defending champion Jan Ullrich in the exhausting mountain stages and finished with a time of 92 hours, 49 minutes and 46 seconds. His time was three minutes, 21 seconds ahead of runner-up Ullrich. American Bobby Julich was consistent throughout and wound up in third.
The 1998 Tour will, however, be known for its ever present drug scandals and ensuing biker strikes. Just days before the start of the race, a Festina Team car was busted for having 400 doses of performance-enhancing drugs. The entire team was later ousted from the race. After days of unannounced police raids and intense media scrutiny, bikers fought back by climbing off their bikes and sitting in the road before the 12th stage. In all, only 96 of the 189 riders that began the race, finished.