LeMond at the 1989 Tour de Trump
|Full name||Gregory James LeMond|
June 26, 1961|
Lakewood, California, U.S.
|Height||1.78 m (5 ft 10 in)|
|Weight||67 kg (148 lb; 10.6 st)|
|1976-1980||U.S. National Team|
|1985-1987||La Vie Claire|
Gregory James "Greg" LeMond (born June 26, 1961) is an American former professional road racing cyclist who won the Road Race World Championship twice (1983 and 1989), the Tour de France three times (1986, 1989 and 1990) and is considered by many to be the greatest American cyclist of all time. He is also an entrepreneur and anti-doping advocate. LeMond was born in Lakewood, California, and raised in ranch country on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, near Reno. He is married and has three children with his wife Kathy, with whom he supports a variety of charitable causes and organizations.
In 1986, LeMond became the first non-European professional cyclist to win the Tour de France, and he remains the only American cyclist to have won the Tour. LeMond was accidentally shot with multiple pellets while hunting in 1987 and missed the next two Tours. He returned to the 1989 Tour, completing an improbable comeback by winning in dramatic fashion on the race's final stage. He successfully defended his title the following year, claiming his third and final Tour victory in 1990, which made LeMond one of only seven riders who have won three or more Tours. He retired from competition in December 1994. He was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1996.
LeMond was the first American to win the elite Road World Championship, the first professional cyclist to sign a million-dollar contract, and the first cyclist to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated when the magazine named him as its Sportsman of the Year in 1989. During his career, LeMond championed several technological advancements in pro cycling, including the introduction of aerodynamic "triathlon" handlebars and carbon fiber bicycle frames, which he later marketed through his company LeMond Bicycles. His other business interests have included restaurants, real estate, and consumer fitness equipment.
LeMond is a vocal opponent of performance-enhancing drug use, and at times his commercial ventures have suffered for his anti-doping stance--as in 2001, when he first accused Lance Armstrong of doping and sparked a conflict that led eventually to the dissolution of his Lemond Bicycles brand in 2008, which was licensed by Armstrong's primary sponsor Trek Bicycles. As the lone American winner of cycling's most prestigious race, LeMond has not enjoyed the public stature that might be expected of such a figure, but he continues to campaign publicly against doping and ineffective leadership by the UCI, the International Federation for Cycling. In December 2012, LeMond even articulated a willingness to replace the UCI president on an interim basis if called to do so. In December 2013, the LeMond brand was revived, manufactured in partnership with TIME Sport International.
Greg LeMond was born in Lakewood, California, and raised in the Washoe Valley, ranch country on the eastern slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain range between Reno and Carson City, Nevada. His parents are Bob LeMond and Bertha (d. 2006), and he has two sisters, Kathy and Karen. LeMond attended Earl Wooster High School, but lived too far away to participate in team sports.
LeMond's introduction to cycling came in 1975 thanks to freestyle skiing pioneer Wayne Wong, who recommended the bike as an ideal off-season training aid. LeMond started competing in 1976, and after dominating the Intermediate category (13-15) and winning the first 11 races he entered, he received permission to ride against older, more seasoned competitors in the Junior (16-19) category.
In 1977, while still only 15, LeMond finished second in the Tour of Fresno to John Howard, then the United States's top road cyclist and the 1971 Pan American Games champion. LeMond caught the attention of Eddie Borysewicz, the US Cycling Federation's national team coach, who described LeMond as "a diamond, a clear diamond." LeMond represented the United States at the 1978 Junior World Championships in Washington, D.C., where he finished ninth in the road race, and again in the 1979 Junior World Championships in Argentina, where he won gold, silver and bronze medals--the highlight being his victory in the road race. At age 18, LeMond was selected for the 1980 U.S. Olympic cycling team, the youngest ever to make the U.S. team. However, the U.S. boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow prevented him from competing there.
Borysewicz, whom LeMond described as his "first real coach," wanted to retain his protégé through the next Olympic cycle and discouraged him from turning pro, but LeMond was determined. Nevertheless, while he was the reigning Junior World Road Champion in 1980, LeMond received no professional offers, and so in the spring of 1980, he joined the U.S. National cycling team for a 6-week European racing campaign. There, he finished third overall in the Circuit des Ardennes before winning the 1980 Circuit de la Sarthe stage race in France, thereby becoming the first American and youngest rider of any nationality "in the history of the sport to win a major pro-am cycling event [in Europe]." That victory, and the subsequent press coverage, raised LeMond's profile in Europe and he was scouted at his next event (the Ruban Granitier Breton stage race) by Cyrille Guimard, the Renault-Elf-Gitane team's directeur sportif. Guimard said he was impressed with LeMond's spirit, and told him, "You have the fire to be a great champion," before offering him a professional contract for 1981 with Renault. After he returned to the United States, LeMond won the 1980 Nevada City Classic, considered to be one of the most historic and challenging professional cycling races in United States. Despite eventually receiving several other offers to turn professional besides Guimard's, LeMond did not consider them seriously, and he signed with Renault in Paris on the day the 1980 Tour de France finished.
LeMond was a standout amateur rider "of superlative quality" and "exceptionally gifted," who quickly established himself as one of the most talented cyclists on the professional circuit. Respected cycling journalist John Wilcockson, who reported the Tour de France for more than 40 years, described LeMond as a rider who was fuoriclasse.[N 1]
LeMond's first professional victory came three months into his 1981 debut when he won a stage of the French Tour de l'Oise. He followed with a win in the Coors Classic in the United States, finishing ahead of Sergei Sukhoruchenkov, the 1980 Olympic road champion. The major step forward in 1981 occurred in the Dauphiné Libéré stage race where LeMond placed third. The achievement is the more remarkable because he rode the race in support of team leader Bernard Hinault. LeMond missed standing on the podium with race winner Hinault, as Pascal Simon had finished ahead of him. Two weeks later Simon was assessed a 10-minute penalty when it was discovered he had been doping. LeMond considered the race to have been a "major steppingstone" in his career. Said LeMond: "It showed me that I had the kind of climbing ability that you need to win the top European stage races." LeMond won a total of five races in his rookie season of 1981.
LeMond broke his collarbone on April 11, 1982, while racing the cycling classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège. The injury forced LeMond to ride a reduced schedule before entering the World Championships, which were in Goodwood, England that year. In the men's road race competition, LeMond broke for the line but was out-sprinted by Italian Giuseppe Saronni. Following the race, LeMond's American teammate Jacques Boyer accused LeMond of chasing him down in the final 800 meters. Saronni was very strong at the end of the race and flew past Boyer and LeMond, winning by 5 seconds over LeMond, with another 5 seconds back to Kelly. Boyer placed tenth. Bronze medalist Sean Kelly, a favorite to win the race, was with Saronni when he caught LeMond with about 200 meters to go, but he could not hold his wheel. Said Kelly: "I don't think that Boyer was fading...He got quite a good gap. Nobody wanted to go after him...Yes, LeMond chased down Boyer. Boyer was the only man up the road."
--Greg LeMond in response to the criticism he received for his performance in the men's road race at the 1982 World Championships.
LeMond was supported by his teammate George Mount, who observed, "What's LeMond going to do? Throw his bike down in front of everybody because Boyer is such a good buddy of everyone?...Hell no--he's going to start sprinting because it's less than 200 meters to go and the sprint's already been going for a couple hundred meters. LeMond made a good move and a good sprint...Boyer was not going to win that race. The best he could have got was fifth or sixth place."
LeMond did not apologize. The U.S. team was not as set up as the European teams, and did not have an independent race to determine the national champion. Instead, the highest finisher at the World's was considered the national champion. LeMond had argued for the team to compete as the European teams did, but team management and Boyer voted against him. Thus, unlike the other teams at the world championship, the US riders were competing against each other.[N 2] Aged 21, LeMond was the first American pro to win a medal at the World's since Frank Kramer took silver in 1912. Said LeMond: "I'm racing for Renault and I'm racing for myself. It's a business and it's my living. To me, that second place was almost as good as winning, especially at my age."
Two weeks later, on September 20, 1982, LeMond won the mountainous 12-day, 837-mile (1,347 km) Tour de l'Avenir by a world-record 10 minutes, 18 seconds. The victory, and the time advantage LeMond held at the end, stunned Europe and provided broad confirmation that LeMond was indeed fuoriclasse.
The following year, 1983, LeMond won the World Championship outright, becoming the first American rider to do so. LeMond's cycling talent--his overall strength, climbing ability, ability to ride a fast time trial and his capacity to recover quickly--all suggested LeMond would be an excellent prospect for the most demanding Grand Tours.
LeMond rode his first Tour de France in 1984, finishing third in support of team leader Laurent Fignon, and winning the white jersey of the young rider classification. The following year he was brought across to La Vie Claire to ride in support of team captain Bernard Hinault who had regained his form and was attempting to win his fifth Tour. French businessman and team owner Bernard Tapie signed LeMond with a $1 million contract over three years. In the race Hinault led through the early mountain stages, but suffered a crash and came into difficulty. At this point, it was clear that LeMond was an elite rider capable of winning the Tour in his own right. LeMond possessed a natural talent for riding the Grand Tours, and got stronger over the course of a three-week race. The injured Hinault was vulnerable, and his competitors knew it. Stage 17 included three major climbs in the Pyrenees. On the second, the Col du Tourmalet, LeMond followed Stephen Roche in an attack, but was not given permission to help build on the gap over the field. The managers of his La Vie Claire team ordered the 24-year-old LeMond not to ride with Roche, but to sit on his wheel, a tactic to use the rider in front as cover for wind resistance so the following rider uses less energy.[N 3] The pace Roche could put out by himself eventually slowed, and other riders came up to join the two men. Hinault recovered as well, though he did not regain the lead group. At the end of the stage LeMond was frustrated to the point of tears. He later revealed that team management and his own coach Paul Köchli had misled him as to how far back Hinault had dropped during the crucial Stage 17 mountain stage. Hinault won the 1985 Tour, with LeMond finishing second, 1:42 behind. LeMond had ridden as the dutiful lieutenant, and his support enabled Hinault to win his fifth Tour.[N 4] In repayment for his sacrifice Hinault promised to help LeMond win the Tour the following year.
For the 1986 Tour, LeMond was a co-leader of the La Vie Claire team alongside Hinault. Hinault's support seemed less certain the closer the race approached. An unspoken condition was that his help would be contingent upon LeMond demonstrating that he was clearly the better rider.[N 5] Hinault was in superb form, and had the chance to win an unprecedented sixth Tour. Hinault chose to let the Stage 9 individual time trial be the decider for which rider would receive the full support of team La Vie Claire.[N 6] Hinault won the Stage 9 time trial, finishing 44 seconds in front of LeMond. LeMond had bad luck during the stage, having suffered a punctured tire requiring a wheel change, and later in the stage a bicycle change was required when he broke a wheel. He was frustrated with the outcome and the impact it would have on how the team would function for the remainder of the race. In Stage 12, the first mountain stage of the race in the Pyrenees, Hinault attacked the lead group and built up an overall lead. By the end of Stage 12, Hinault had a five-minute lead over LeMond and the other top riders. He claimed he was trying to draw out LeMond's rivals, but none of these attacks were planned with LeMond.[N 7] He was clearly willing to ride aggressively and take advantage of the opportunities presented. LeMond was never placed in difficulty, except by his own teammate. The following day Hinault broke away again early but was caught and then dropped by LeMond on the final climb of Stage 13, allowing LeMond to gain back four and a half minutes. The next three stages brought the Tour to the Alps. On Stage 17 LeMond and Urs Zimmermann dropped Hinault from the leading group, and the end of the day saw LeMond pulling on the yellow jersey of race leader, the first time it had ever been worn by a rider from the United States. The following day in the Alps saw Hinault attack again early on the first climb, but he was pulled back. Attempting an escape on the descent, he was unable to separate himself from LeMond. The La Vie Claire team leaders were both excellent descenders. As they ascended up the next col they continued to pull away from the field, and maintained the gap as they reached the base of the final climb, the vaunted Alpe d'Huez. They pressed on through the crowd, ascending the twenty-one switchbacks of Alpe d'Huez and reaching the summit together. LeMond put an arm around Hinault and gave him a smile and the stage win in a show of unity, but the infighting was not over. Hinault attacked again on Stage 19 and had to be brought back by teammates Andrew Hampsten and Steve Bauer.[N 8] Commenting on the team situation prior to the final individual time trial at Stage 20, LeMond offered the following with a wry smile: "He's attacked me from the beginning of the Tour De France. He's never helped me once, and I don't feel confident at all with him."
LeMond had to keep his eye on his teammate and rival throughout the race. Hinault rode aggressively and repeatedly attacked, and the division created in the La Vie Claire team was unmistakable. LeMond would keep the yellow jersey to the end of the race and win his first Tour, but he felt betrayed by Hinault and the La Vie Claire team leadership. LeMond later stated the 1986 Tour was the most difficult and stressful race of his career.
LeMond had planned to defend his title in the 1987 Tour de France with La Vie Claire, but he was unable to participate. Earlier that year, while riding in the Tirreno-Adriatico spring tune-up race, LeMond fell and fractured his left wrist. He returned to the United States to recover from the injury. The week before returning to Europe, he went turkey hunting on a ranch co-owned by his father in Lincoln, California - in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. LeMond was with Rodney Barber and Patrick Blades, his uncle and brother-in-law. The trio had become separated when Blades, who heard movement behind him, turned and fired through a bush. The movement had come from LeMond, who was hit in his back and right side with a devastating blast of approximately 60 No. 2-sized pellets. LeMond's injuries were life-threatening, but fortunately, a police helicopter was already airborne near the scene and transported LeMond on a 15-minute air medical flight to the Medical Center at University of California-Davis. LeMond was taken for emergency surgery. He had suffered a pneumothorax to his right lung and extensive bleeding, having lost some 65 percent of his blood volume. A physician informed LeMond later that he had been within 20 minutes of bleeding to death. The operation saved his life, but four months later he developed a small bowel obstruction due to adhesions that had formed following the shooting. He underwent another surgery to relieve the obstruction and take down the adhesions. Concerned that his team would drop him if they knew the shooting accident required a second surgery, LeMond asked the surgeons to remove his appendix at the same time. He then informed his team that he had had his appendix removed, but the rest of the story was left somewhat vague. The events effectively ended his 1987 season, and in October he announced he would return to serious competition the following February, with the Dutch PDM team.
With 35 shotgun pellets still in his body, including three in the lining of his heart and five more embedded in his liver, LeMond attempted to return to racing in 1988. His comeback was hampered by over-training which resulted in tendonitis in his right shin requiring surgery. He missed the Tour for the second year running. Tensions in the relationship between LeMond and PDM were aggravated when LeMond discovered that doping was going on at the PDM squad. The result was that LeMond moved from PDM, one of the strongest teams in the peloton, to ADR, a team based in Belgium. The team was co-sponsored by Coors Light for American races. The deal was completed on New Year's Eve, just hours before LeMond would have been legally obligated to ride another season for the Dutch team. Joining the Belgian ADR squad allowed LeMond to continue to compete, but with teammates like Johan Museeuw who were better suited to riding Classics than Grand Tours.
After struggling in the 1989 Paris-Nice early-season race and failing to improve his condition, LeMond informed his wife Kathy that he intended to retire from professional cycling after the 1989 Tour de France. He had some flashes of form with 6th overall in Tirreno-Adriatico and in the two-day Critérium International, sharing an escape with Fignon, Indurain, Mottet, Roche and Madiot and finishing 4th overall. He started the 1989 Giro d'Italia in May as preparation for the Tour to follow, but struggled in the mountains and was not in contention for any of the leaders' jerseys before the final 53 km (33 mi) individual time trial into Florence. LeMond placed a surprising second there, more than a minute ahead of overall winner Laurent Fignon.[N 9] Some of his improvement he attributed to an anti-anemia treatment he received twice during the race.
Coming into the 1989 Tour de France LeMond was not considered a contender for the general classification (GC).[N 10] His own most optimistic hope was to finish his final Tour in the top 20. Without the weight of expectation and other pressures of being a Tour favorite, LeMond surprised observers with a strong ride in the 7.8 km (4.8 mi) prologue in Luxembourg, finishing fourth out of 198 riders. Buoyed by the result, LeMond continued to ride well over the opening flat stages, winning the 73 km (45 mi) stage 5 individual time trial, and gaining the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification for the first time in three years. LeMond seemed to ride himself into better condition during the first week's flat stages, and he was coming into peak form by the time the Tour reached the mountains. LeMond remained at the front of the race in the Pyrénées, but lost the lead to his former teammate and rival Laurent Fignon on stage 10 in Superbagnères. Five days later LeMond reclaimed yellow in the Alps, after the 39 km (24 mi) stage 15 mountain time trial from Gap to Orcières-Merlette. The see-saw battle continued, and when Fignon attacked on the upper slopes of Alpe d'Huez LeMond was unable to go with him, placing the yellow jersey back on the shoulders of Fignon. Fignon held a 50-second advantage over LeMond going into the 21st and final stage, a rare 24.5 km (15.2 mi) individual time trial from Versailles to the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Fignon had won the Tour twice before, in 1983 and 1984, and was a very capable time trialist. It seemed improbable that LeMond could take 50 seconds off Fignon over the short course. This would require LeMond to gain two seconds per kilometer against one of the fastest chrono-specialists in the world. LeMond had done wind tunnel testing in the off season and perfected his riding position. He rode the time trial with a rear disc wheel, a cut-down Giro aero helmet and the same Scott clip-on aero bars which had helped him to the Stage 5 time trial win. Holding his time trialing position LeMond was able to generate less aerodynamic drag than Fignon, who used a pair of disc wheels but chose to go helmetless and did not use the aero bars that are now commonplace in time trials. Instructing his support car not to give him his split times, LeMond rode flat-out and finished at a record pace to beat Fignon by 8 seconds and claim his second Tour de France victory. As LeMond embraced his wife and rejoiced on the Champs-Élysées, Fignon collapsed onto the tarmac, then sat in shock and wept.
The final margin of victory of eight seconds was the closest in the Tour's history. LeMond's 54.545 km/h (33.893 mph) average speed for the stage 21 time trial was, at that time, the fastest in Tour history. Since then, only the 1994 and 2015 prologues and David Zabriskie's 2005 time trial performance have been faster.[N 11] The press immediately labeled LeMond's come-from-behind triumph as, "the most astonishing victory in Tour de France history," and while LeMond admitted that it felt almost "too good to be true," he personally rated it as "much more satisfying" than his first overall Tour win in 1986.
LeMond's return to the pinnacle of cycling was confirmed on August 27, when he won the 259 km (161 mi) World Championships road race in Chambéry, France, defeating Fignon again and edging Dimitri Konyshev and Sean Kelly on the line. Fignon attacked repeatedly on the wet, treacherous final climb, but LeMond and a select group caught his rival and then LeMond made the perfect sprint to take the title. Fignon finished 6th. LeMond was only the fifth person in history to win both the Tour de France and the World Championship in the same year. In December, Sports Illustrated magazine named LeMond its 1989 "Sportsman of the Year", the first time a cyclist received the honor.
LeMond parlayed the success of his 1989 season into the then-richest contract in the sport's history, signing a $5.5 million deal for three years with Z-Tomasso of France. He entered the 1990 Tour de France as defending champion and a pre-race favorite after leaving ADR to join the much stronger French team. At "Z" his teammates included Robert Millar, Eric Boyer and Ronan Pensec, all of whom already had finishes in the top six of the Tour de France. This unified roster of strong riders appeared capable of supporting LeMond in the mountains and controlling the race on the flats.
The squad's tactical plan was upset on the first day, when a breakaway that included LeMond's teammate Ronan Pensec, but no major favorites, arrived ten minutes ahead of the field. LeMond was prevented from challenging for the lead until the yellow jersey left the shoulders of his teammate. LeMond closed in on race leader Claudio Chiappucci, finally overtaking him in the final individual time trial on stage 20, where he finished over two minutes ahead of the unheralded Italian. LeMond at last had the yellow jersey, wearing it the following day as the Tour rode into Paris. LeMond had the distinction of winning the 1990 Tour without taking any of the individual stages. He remains the last rider to win the Tour while wearing the world champion jersey. Over the course of the 1990 Tour the perceived strength of the Z team was confirmed, as they led the team classification through most of the race, adding the team title to LeMond's yellow jersey.
LeMond felt confident before the 1991 Tour de France. He was the defending champion, trained well and had a solid team to support him. LeMond was among the leaders going into the Stage 8 individual time trial, and he finished second to the Spaniard Miguel Indurain. LeMond felt he was riding extremely well, and though his TT-effort had propelled him into the yellow jersey as leader of the general classification, losing eight seconds to Indurain shook his confidence. He held the yellow jersey for the next four days until Stage 12, a challenging 192 km (119 mi) mountain stage. LeMond experienced difficulty on the first climb and he cracked on the Col de Tourmalet, losing significant time to Claudio Chiappucci, and eventual winner Indurain. He continued to race, but was unable to seriously challenge for the lead thereafter, finishing the 1991 Tour seventh overall.
In 1992, LeMond won the Tour DuPont. It would be the last major win of his career. In the 1992 Tour de France he started strongly and finished fourth in a breakaway on Stage 6 that put him fifth overall and he maintained his fifth place until the mountain stages when he lost form disastrously and lost more than 45 minutes on the stage to Sestrieres before quitting the race the next day -- when his compatriot and former domestique Andrew Hampsten won atop Alpe d'Huez. While LeMond claimed a serious saddle sore caused him to abandon, he had earlier stated, "My climbing is not like usual. I've climbed much better in the past Tours. This year I'm just not feeling my usual self."
LeMond did extensive endurance training on the road the following winter, but his performances the following spring failed to improve. LeMond had to abandon the 1993 Giro d'Italia two days before the final stage after difficult racing left him third-from-last on GC. He was too exhausted to enter the 1993 Tour de France. Following the 1993 season LeMond hired renowned Dutch physiologist Adrie van Diemen to advise him on a new technique to monitor training and measure performance. The (SRM) power-based training would make use of the watt as a guide to power output. In November 1993 LeMond confided to Samuel Abt that power output in watts would become the key metric.[N 12] The watt has gained wide acceptance as the best measure of a cyclist's training performance.
The following year LeMond began the 1994 Tour de France but found he was unable to race effectively. He had to abandon after the first week before the race had reached the difficult mountain stages. That December he announced his retirement. At the time the reasons for LeMond's increasing difficulties were not entirely known. At a loss, he speculated that a condition known as mitochondrial myopathy might be responsible for the difficulty he was having performing against the current riders.[N 13] In 2007, however, LeMond speculated that he might not have had the condition after all, and suggested that lead toxicity from the shotgun pellets still embedded in his body might have been responsible, the effects of which were increased by heavy training.
LeMond has acknowledged since 2010 that the increasing prevalence of doping in cycling contributed to his lack of competitiveness. Said LeMond: "Something had changed in cycling. The speeds were faster and riders that I had easily out performed were now dropping me. At the time, the team I was on, Team Z, became more and more demanding, more and more concerned..." He stated he had been told in 1994 that he would need to blood dope in order to win again. LeMond did not focus solely on doping for his difficulties. He frankly admitted to Abt in 1999: "I figure I had three months that went right for me after the hunting accident," three months in which he won the two Tours and a world road race championship. "The rest were just pure suffering, struggling, fatigue, always tired."
In a wide-ranging interview with American novelist Bryan Malessa in 1998, LeMond was asked if his career had not been interrupted by the hunting accident, how did he feel he would compare to five time Tour winners such as Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain. LeMond responded: "Of course you can't rewrite racing history, but I'm confident that I would have won five Tours."[N 14]
Two years after his retirement LeMond was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in a ceremony at Rodale Park in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania. The event was held on June 8, 1996, during the U.S. Olympic Cycling Team Trials.
In July 2014, ESPN announced the premiere of a new 30 for 30 film titled Slaying the Badger which centers on LeMond and his former teammate Hinault at the 1986 Tour de France. The film is based on the book of the same name by Richard Moore and premiered July 22, 2014 on ESPN.
Greg LeMond was a pioneer in the use of carbon fiber bicycle frames in European professional road cycling, and his Tour de France win in 1986 ahead of Bernard Hinault was the first for a carbon-framed bicycle. Ironically, given the rivalry that existed at the time between the American and his French teammate, LeMond rode a "Bernard Hinault" Signature Model Look prototype that year. LeMond also won the 1989 Tour de France, the 1989 World Championship, and his final Tour de France in 1990 on carbon fiber frames. These bicycle frames featured "Greg LeMond" branding.
In 1990, LeMond founded LeMond Bicycles to develop machines for himself that would also be marketed and sold to the public. The following year, searching for an equipment edge for Team Z at the 1991 Tour de France, LeMond concluded an exclusive licensing agreement between his company and Carbonframes, Inc., to access the latter's advanced composites technology. While LeMond briefly led the 1991 Tour overall, riding his Carbonframes-produced "Greg LeMond" bicycle, the company eventually faltered, something LeMond blamed on "under-capitalization" and poor management by his father. Carbonframes and LeMond Cycles "parted amiably two years later." In 1995, with his company allegedly nearly bankrupt, LeMond reached a licensing-agreement with Trek Bicycle Corporation, according to which the Wisconsin-based company would manufacture and distribute bicycles designed with LeMond that would be sold under the "LeMond Bicycles" brand. LeMond would later claim that going into business with Trek "destroyed" his relationship with his father. The lucrative partnership, which generated revenue for Trek in excess of $100,000,000 USD, would be renewed several times over the course of 13 years, but it ultimately ended in acrimony after LeMond's relationship with Trek deteriorated over his staunch anti-doping advocacy.
The two parties first found themselves at odds in July 2001, after LeMond expressed public concern over the relationship between Italian doping doctor Michele Ferrari and Trek's star athlete, Lance Armstrong. "When I heard he was working with Michele Ferrari, I was devastated," LeMond was quoted as saying of Armstrong. "If Lance is clean, it is the greatest comeback in the history of sports. If he isn't, it would be the greatest fraud."
Trek's president John Burke pressured LeMond to apologize, claiming, "Greg's public comments hurt the LeMond brand and the Trek brand." Burke allegedly justified his demand for an apology by advising that, "As a contractual partner, he [LeMond] could criticize doping only generally - not point his finger at specific athletes, particularly one that happens to be the company's main cash cow."
In April 2008, Trek announced that it was dropping LeMond Bicycles from its product line and would sue to sever the licensing agreement. It quickly emerged that in March 2008, LeMond had filed a complaint against Trek for breach of contract, claiming that they had not made a "best efforts" attempt to sell his bicycles, as well as describing attempts to 'silence' him about doping, including incidents in 2001 and 2004. His complaint included statistics detailing slow sales in some markets, including the fact that between September 2001 and June 2007, Trek only sold $10,393 worth of LeMond bikes in France, a country in which LeMond was both famous and popular.
As promised, Trek counter-sued and stopped producing bicycles under the LeMond brand. After nearly two years of litigation, in February 2010, LeMond reached an out-of-court settlement with Trek in their breach-of-contract dispute, the terms of which were confidential. The settlement permitted the case to be dismissed with prejudice, meaning, "neither side can produce the same claims against one another in a future lawsuit." And although settlement terms were not disclosed, LeMond reportedly obtained full control over the LeMond Bicycles name, while Trek made a donation of $200,000 USD to the charity 1in6, of which LeMond was a founding member of the board of directors.
In 2002, LeMond, Bernie Boglioli and others founded LeMond Fitness, Inc. "to help individuals achieve their fitness and performance goals and train more effectively." The company's primary business is the development and manufacture of bicycle trainers and indoor exercise bikes for consumers in the United States and internationally. LeMond himself serves as Chairman of the Board, and, according to company sources, "is integrally involved in the development and design of our products and programs." In 2012, Hoist Fitness negotiated to purchase an interest in the company and announced plans to move its headquarters to Hoist's offices in San Diego, CA. In late 2012, Greg LeMond purchased the LeMond Revolution from Hoist, relaunching with a new management team in Minneapolis. He also formed LeMond LLC to introduce a suite of brands in late 2013, early 2014. Professional cycling's Garmin-Sharp team recently renewed its sponsorship with LeMond to use its Revolution trainers for another three seasons. The team has won several stages of the Tour de France, plus the general classification of the 2012 Giro d'Italia.
At the Interbike trade show in September 2013 LeMond announced that he was returning to the business of bicycle manufacture and sales by partnering with French company Time. The new line began with a series of commemorative designed bicycles, to be followed with road, cyclocross, and gravel-road models. LeMond purchased Time Sport USA, the US distributor for the company. He will be responsible for US distribution of the company's line of frames, bikes, and components. Said LeMond: "I'm really excited to be back in the bike industry."
In 2002 LeMond joined with his parents-in-law David and Sacia Morris, friend Michael Snow and J.P. Morgan & Co. fund manager Jorge Jasson to invest in the exclusive Yellowstone Club, a Big Sky, Montana private ski and golf community founded by timber baron Tim Blixseth and his wife Edra. Each of the five partners paid Blixseth $750,000 for one percent shares in the exclusive resort. LeMond also purchased several building lots and maintained a property at the resort. Four years later LeMond and partners sued Blixseth in 2006 following reports of a Credit Suisse loan to the resort of $375 million from which Blixseth reportedly took $209 million in a disputed partial payout for his ownership stake. The Credit Suisse loan was based on a $1.16 billion Cushman & Wakefield valuation of the resort, for which LeMond and partners each sought $11.6 million for their one-percent shares. In 2007, LeMond settled his suit with the Blixseths for $39 million; however, he and his partners remained creditors as the Blixseths defaulted on a $20 million payment (after having already paid the group $18 million), followed by their divorce and the bankruptcy of the Club in 2009.
LeMond became a restaurateur in August 1990, when, in partnership with his wife and her parents, he opened Scott Kee's Tour de France on France Avenue in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota. LeMond described the restaurant, which was named for its chef (LeMond's brother-in-law), as "a dream of five years come true." Explaining the origin of the concept, LeMond said, "Kathy and I have eaten at the finest establishments in France, Italy and Belgium. Our favorites have always been small places, family-owned." LeMond also partnered in several Bruegger's bagel bakery-café franchises.
LeMond founded LeMond Composites in 2016 to manufacture high-volume, low-cost carbon fiber composites under a licensing agreement with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and an exclusive 20-year licensing agreement with Deakin University. LeMond and his family moved from Minnesota to Oak Ridge, Tennessee to be close to the $125 million LeMond Composites manufacturing facility.
On October 16, 2017, Australian politician Sarah Henderson announced that LeMond Composites would receive AU$2.5 million (US$1.92 million) in Australian Federal Government funding to establish a carbon fiber manufacturing plant in Geelong, Australia.
In 2014, LeMond joined Eurosport as a pundit for the channel's cycling coverage, providing analysis at Paris-Roubaix, the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France, and hosting his own monthly programme LeMond of Cycling.
LeMond is a longtime vocal opponent of performance-enhancing drug use. He first spoke on-record against doping in cycling after winning the 1989 Tour de France. LeMond received intense criticism in 2001 when he publicly expressed doubts about the legitimacy of Lance Armstrong's Tour success after learning of his relationship with Dr. Michele Ferrari. His outspokenness placed him in the center of the anti-doping controversy.
LeMond has consistently questioned the relationship between riders and unethical sports doctors like Ferrari, and has pointed out that doping products ultimately victimize the professional cyclists who make use of them. Said LeMond: "When I speak out about doping people could translate it and think it was about the riders. Actually I feel like I am an advocate for the riders. I look at them as being treated like lab rats that are test vehicles for the doctors. The doctors, the management, the officials, they're the ones that have corrupted riders. The riders are the only ones that pay the price."
LeMond's most notable conflicts have been with fellow Tour riders Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis. He has also been critical of Alberto Contador, the UCI, and its former president, Pat McQuaid. In December 2012, LeMond claimed that a change needed to be made at the head of leadership for the UCI, and stated if called upon he would be willing to take the position himself if necessary to lead cycling out of the mire of doping. Said LeMond: "It is now or never to act. After the earthquake caused by the Armstrong case another chance will not arise. I am willing to invest to make this institution more democratic, transparent and look for the best candidate in the longer term."
McQuaid rejected LeMond's call for new leadership and was dismissive of LeMond. Ultimately McQuaid was defeated in his bid for a third term by British Cycling president Brian Cookson at the September 2013 UCI Congress in Florence, Italy. Lemond had supported Cookson in the UCI Presidential battle.
LeMond grew up living an active, outdoor life. Hiking, hunting, skiing and flyfishing were boyhood pastimes. The ranch country of the Sierra Nevada mountain range lent itself to such pursuits. A hyperactive youngster, LeMond believes these outdoor activities helped keep him out of trouble. "I was a boy who just could not sit still. I had trouble focusing in school. Parents and educators then did not have the skill set to diagnose and cope with what we know now was a classic case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD certainly was not the frequently medicated childhood disease it is today. My triumph over the symptoms was found atop two thin tires over many dusty miles." Said LeMond: "That's one of the traits. It's the inability to sit down [and listen] to something you are not really interested in and absorb it. If they are interested in it, people with ADD excel in really good ways. When I got into cycling I would say the sport itself took a fog off my brain. I was able to absorb stuff I read. It changed my life."
LeMond is married to his wife Kathy (previously Kathy Morris) and together they have three children: sons Geoffrey and Scott, and daughter Simone. LeMond and his wife lived in Medina, Minnesota from 1990 until 2017 and now live in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Since his retirement, LeMond has become increasingly involved in philanthropic efforts relating to causes that have affected him personally (including ADHD and sexual abuse), and he and Kathy both sit on the board of the non-profit 1in6.
LeMond is an avid outdoor enthusiast and fly angler, and in 1991 - while still racing full-time - he made the world-record fly fishing catch of a four-pound smallmouth bass on a reel with a four-pound tippet. The record was certified by the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin. The catch exceeded the then-previous record of three pounds, six ounces made on the same size tippet back in 1986. LeMond confessed, "I always pack my fly fishing equipment when I travel to bike events. I fish every chance I get."
After retiring from pro cycling, LeMond competed in Formula Ford 2000 series auto racing. He is also a motivational speaker and was the guest speaker for Sumitomo Drive Technologies' International Sales Meeting in Cancun, Mexico on May 2, 2008. LeMond narrated an award-winning documentary for Adventures for the Cure that same year.
On July 16, 2007, LeMond rode the L'Étape du Tour cyclosportive with his son, and found it to be a defining moment in his post-competition life. "I had the time of my life", he said, despite getting "650th place" and being "impressed that I even finished". LeMond continued, "I decided that day that nobody's going to keep me from cycling, not Trek, not Armstrong, not Verbruggen, not anybody." At the time, LeMond was alluding to a series of public and private disputes related to his anti-doping advocacy that hampered his enjoyment of cycling. Especially significant was LeMond's appearance as a USADA witness in the Floyd Landis doping case. There, on the eve of LeMond's testimony in May 2007, Landis' business manager called and threatened to disclose publicly that LeMond was the victim of childhood sexual abuse, should he appear in court as scheduled the following day. Undeterred, LeMond took the stand and testified, before admitting to the world that he had been molested.
--Greg LeMond explaining how he felt about the fame he acquired.
Several weeks later, LeMond and his wife Kathy gave an extensive interview to Paul Kimmage of The Sunday Times. LeMond provided additional details concerning the circumstances of his 2001 apology to Armstrong, stating that Trek, the longtime manufacturer and distributor of LeMond Racing Cycles, had threatened to end the relationship at the behest of Armstrong. He described the two years following the forced apology as the worst in his life, marked by self-destructive behavior that ultimately led him to disclose his sexual abuse to his wife and seek help. LeMond also described how being a victim of molestation had impacted both his racing career and his life since.
In September 2007, Greg LeMond became a founding board member of the non-profit organization 1in6.org, whose mission is "to help men who have had unwanted or abusive sexual experiences in childhood live healthy, happy lives".
LeMond was in a car crash on the morning of January 30, 2013. He was driving through wintery and icy conditions to his dentist in Wayzata, Minnesota, when he lost control of his car. LeMond suffered a concussion and was left with no memory of the incident. According to Associated Press, a Plymouth police report says LeMond left the road, hit a fence and shrubs, and then hit an embankment before ending up in the backyard of a home. LeMond may have lost consciousness before the accident, according to his wife Kathy, and he suffered a compression fracture in his back and would have to wear a brace for three months. The accident curtailed LeMond's public appearances in the first half of 2013, but he made a full recovery.
|Vuelta a España||--||--||DNF||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Tour de France||--||--||--||3||2||1||--||--||1||1||7||DNF||--||DNF|
|World Road Race||47||2||1||27||2||7||--||--||1||4||DNF||--||--||--|
|--||Did not compete|
|DNF||Did not finish|
[In 1991,] Carbonframes filled a big purchase order from international cycling champion Greg LeMond who wanted 18 frames for Team Z. Carbonframes relocated to Reno after entering an exclusive licensing agreement with LeMond Bicycles.
...professional cycling was teetering on a knife edge over the very issue that had made this great champion, this terrific man, into a controversial, unpopular figure in his own country, not because of what he had done but because of what he had said.