Greg LeMond

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LeMond at the start of the last stage in the 1990 Tour de France.
LeMond at the start of the last stage in the 1990 Tour de France.

Gregory James "Greg" LeMond (born June 26, 1961 in Reno, Nevada) is a former professional road bicycle racer from the United States. In 1986, he became the first American cyclist to win the Tour de France. He won the Tour again in 1989 and 1990, becoming one of only eight cyclists to have won the Tour three or more times.

Racing career

Greg was a standout junior rider and quickly established himself as a phenomenal talent. Soon after his initial racing success, he began competing against older, more seasoned racers and gained the attention of the US national cycling team. Greg went on to win gold, silver and bronze medals at the 1979 Junior World Championships in Argentina and amazed spectators with his spectacular victory in the road race. He was named the 1980 Olympic cycling team but was unable to compete due to the US boycott of the summer Moscow games. With the guidance of Cyrille Guimard he joined the European peloton. LeMond began racing professionally in 1981 with the Renault-Elf-Gitane team. He proved to be a forceful one-day rider with a silver medal at the 1982 World Cycling Championship and the first American to win a road cycling World Championship the following year. He soon began preparing for the more demanding Grand Tours.

LeMond rode his first Tour de France in 1984 and finished third, winning the prestigious White Jersey as the Tour's best young rider. In the 1985 Tour the managers of his La Vie Claire team ordered the 24-year-old LeMond to ride in support of his team captain Bernard Hinault who was leading the race and was suffering from injuries sustained in a crash caused by other riders, instead of riding to win the race. LeMond finished second, 1:42 behind Hinault, who was able to claim his fifth Tour victory. LeMond later asserted in an interview that the team management and his coach Paul Koechli had lied to him during a crucial stage, telling him that Hinault was close behind him when in fact Hinault lagged LeMond by over three minutes.

A year later in 1986, Hinault and LeMond were co-leaders of the La Vie Claire team. By stage 12, Hinault had built up a five-minute lead over LeMond, but he cracked in the mountains the next day and soon LeMond was in the lead. Although the two riders crested the Alpe d'Huez together in a show of unity, it was clear that Hinault had been riding aggressively against his teammate. LeMond ultimately took the yellow jersey that year but felt betrayed by Hinault, who had publicly promised to help him win in 1986 in gratitude for LeMond's sacrifice in 1985.

Disaster struck LeMond while turkey hunting in California, April 20, 1987, when his brother-in-law accidentally discharged his shotgun, striking LeMond in the chest just over two months before the 1987 Tour de France was to begin. LeMond missed the following two Tours while recovering, also undergoing surgery for appendicitis and for tendonitis in his leg.

At the 1989 Tour de France, with 37 shotgun pellets remaining in his body (including some in the lining of his heart), LeMond was hoping only to finish in the top 20. Heading into the final stage, however, an individual time trial finishing in Paris, LeMond was in second place overall. He was 50 seconds behind Laurent Fignon, who had won the Tour in 1983 and 1984. LeMond rode the time trial using then-novel aero bars, which gave him a significant aerodynamic advantage, to beat Fignon by 58 seconds to claim his second yellow jersey with a final victory margin of 8 seconds – the closest in the Tour's history. As LeMond danced in victory on the Champs-Élysées, Fignon sat and wept. Several days later, Fignon attributed his loss to saddle sores, which had hurt his perfomance. However, it was noted that Fignon had been overconfident on the last stages of the Tour, allowing LeMond to gain an advantage which proved decisive. LeMond's comeback was confirmed by winning his second World Cycling Championship road race several weeks later, beating Dimitri Konyshev and Seán Kelly in the final sprint. LeMond was named Sports Illustrated magazine's 1989 " Sportsman of the Year", the first cyclist ever to receive the honour.

LeMond won the Tour for the third time in 1990. That year he became one of the few cyclists to win the Tour without winning any of the individual stages.

In 1992, LeMond became the first American to win the Tour DuPont, a short-lived American answer to the Tour de France that took place from 1991 to 1996. Lemond won the prologue in record time and it was his first American win since the mid-1980s. The 1992 Tour DuPont victory was Greg LeMond's last major win of his career. He developed mitochondrial myopathy, possibly resulting from his 1987 wounding, and retired from professional cycling in December 1994.

In a 1997 interview, LeMond openly rued his lost opportunities, noting that he had "given away" the 1985 Tour and missed it altogether in 1987 and 1988 after being shot. "Of course you can't rewrite racing history", he said, "but I'm confident that I would have won five Tours."

Post-racing career

Continuing to apply his cycling and fitness expertise, LeMond started several companies since his racing retirement, including LeMond Bicycles (now a division of Trek) and LeMond Fitness. He pursued auto racing briefly as a way to continue channeling his competitive drive. However, after several seasons he appears to have dropped that pursuit. He currently lives in Medina, Minnesota, USA.


In 2001, LeMond stirred up controversy by allowing the possibility that Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong might be doping to improve his performance. In July 2004, after additional Tour de France wins by Armstrong, LeMond commented again, "If Armstrong's clean, it's the greatest comeback. And if he's not, then it's the greatest fraud." LeMond also declared to newspaper Le Monde: "Lance is ready to do anything to keep his secret. I don't know how he can continue to convince everybody of his innocence" .

In 2006, LeMond again made news when he alleged that Lance Armstrong had threatened him: "Lance threatened me. He threatened my wife, my business, my life," LeMond told French sports daily L'Equipe. "His biggest threat consisted of saying that he (Armstrong) would find ten people to testify that I took EPO." At one point in time LeMond had apologized to Armstrong, calling him "a great champion."

In 2006, LeMond remarked regarding 2006 Tour de France winner Floyd Landis and the allegations against him for doping, saying "I hope that (Landis) won't do what another American did: Deny, deny, deny." - perhaps referring to Tyler Hamilton.

Major achievements and accolades

  • International Cycling Centre's "Lifetime Achievement Award" winner
  • Fox Sports Network's "50 Greatest Athletes of the Century"
  • Inductee, United States Bicycling Hall of Fame
  • Korbel Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 1st, Prologue (ITT), Tour DuPont
1991 – Z
  • World's Most Outstanding Athlete Award, Jesse Owens International Trophy
1990 – Z
  • ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year (the only athlete to repeat as Wide World's Athlete of the Year.)
  • 1st, Overall, Tour de France
  • 4th, World Cycling Championships
  • Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year
  • ABC's Wide World of Sports Athlete of the Year
  • 1st, World Cycling Championships
  • 1st, Overall, Tour de France
    • 1st, Stage 5 ( ITT)
    • 1st, Stage 19
    • 1st, Stage 21 ( Champs-Élysées (ITT)
1986 – La Vie Claire
  • 1st, Overall, Tour de France
1985 – La Vie Claire
  • 1st, Coors Classic
  • 2nd, World Cycling Championships
  • 2nd, Overall, Tour de France
1984 – Renault
  • 3rd, Overall, Tour de France
    • Maillot blanc, Best Young Rider Classification
1983 – Renault-Elf-Gitane
  • 1st, World Cycling Championships
  • 1st, Dauphiné Libéré
1982 – Renault-Elf-Gitane
  • 1st, Overall, Tour de l'Avenir
  • 2nd, World Cycling Championships
1981 – Renault-Elf-Gitane

First year as a professional.

  • 1st, Coors Classic
  • Member, United States Olympic Cycling Team
  • 1st, U23 World Cycling Championships

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