The 2004 Tour de France was the 91st, taking place from July 3 to July 25, 2004. It consisted of 20 stages over 3391 km.
The race victory is currently voided, originally Lance Armstrong had become the first to win six Tours de France, before his disqualification. Armstrong had been favored to win, his competitors seen as being German Jan Ullrich, Spaniards Roberto Heras and Iban Mayo, and fellow Americans Levi Leipheimer and Tyler Hamilton. A major surprise in the Tour was the performance of French newcomer Thomas Voeckler, who unexpectedly won the maillot jaune in the fifth stage and held onto it for ten stages before finally losing it to Armstrong.
This Tour saw the mistreatment of Filippo Simeoni by Lance Armstrong on Stage 18. Armstrong also made a "zip-the-lips" gesture on camera, apparently referencing Simeoni.
The route of the 2004 Tour was remarkable. With two individual time trials scheduled in the last week, one of them the climb of Alpe d'Huez, the directors were hoping for a close race until the end. For the first time in years, the mountains of the Massif Central made an appearance.
On 24 August 2012, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that they had disqualified Lance Armstrong from all his results since 1998, including his seven Tour de France wins from 1999–2005. In October 2012 the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) accepted USADA's verdict and stripped Armstrong of his wins, including the 2004 Tour de France.
In August 2013, Jan Ullrich—arguably Lance Armstrong's biggest Tour de France rival—reportedly said that Armstrong should have his seven stripped wins reinstated, due to the prevalence of doping at the time. He had won the 1997 Tour and finished second to Armstrong three times—in 2000, 2001 and 2003—but declined to stake a claim for his rival's stripped titles.
Initially the organisers had an option for a 22nd team, which would be Kelme, but after Jesús Manzano exposed doping use in that team, Kelme was not invited, and the race started with 21 teams of nine cyclists.
The book L. A. Confidentiel, by David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, came out shortly before the 2004 Tour, accusing Lance Armstrong of doping. Lance Armstrong and his lawyers asked for an emergency hearing in French court to insert a denial into the book. The French judge denied this request. Armstrong also launched defamation suits against the publisher and the authors, as well as magazine L'Express and UK newspaper The Sunday Times which both referenced it.