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Greg LeMond

From Academic Kids

Greg LeMond (born June 26, 1961 in Lakewood, California) is a former professional road bicycle racer from the United States. In 1986, he became the first non-European cyclist to win the Tour de France. He won the Tour again in 1989 and 1990.

Racing career

LeMond began racing professionally in 1982. With the help of Cyrille Guimard, he joined the European peleton at a time when few other American riders were able to do so. He finished third in the Tour de France in 1984. 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 instead of pushing for the victory that seemed to be within his grasp. 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, the La Vie Claire team had two recognised leaders: Hinault and LeMond. Hinault built up a five-minute lead over LeMond on stage 12, but cracked in the mountains on stage 13 and allowed LeMond to close the gap to just 40 seconds. LeMond faithfully defended Hinault against an attack by Urs Zimmerman on stage 17, but Hinault lost time and LeMond was in the maillot jaune. The following, decisive stage was one in which the riders took on brutal climbs, but Hinault and LeMond could not be separated. LeMond allowed Hinault the stage win, but won the overall (general classification) victory. LeMond felt betrayed by Hinault, who had publicly promised to help him win in 1986 in gratitude for LeMond's sacrifice in 1985.

After his first Tour de France win in 1986, LeMond nearly died from shotgun wounds suffered in a turkey hunting accident in the fall of 1986. He was forced to miss the following two Tours while he recovered and also had surgery for tendinitis in his leg and for appendicitis. Three years later in 1989, 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. However heading into the final stage, an individual time trial finishing in Paris, LeMond was in second place, 50 seconds behind the Frenchman Laurent Fignon (who had previously won the Tour in 1983 and '84). Fignon was shocked as LeMond appeared in a then-novel aerodynamic time trial position, attacked from the start of the stage and beat him 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. Although he did not say so until several days later, Fignon had been suffering from saddle sores for several days and had barely been able to finish the previous day's stage. LeMond was named Sports Illustrated magazine's 1989 "Sportsman of the Year", the first cyclist ever to receive the honor.

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 1986 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, missed it altogether in 1986 and 1987 after being shot, and ridden at less than his pre-wounding potential in 1988 and 1989. "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 currently lives in Medina, Minnesota, USA, and has been pursuing auto racing.

Controversy

In 2001, LeMond stirred up controversy, alleging that multiple-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong may be doping to improve his performance.[1] (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/cycling/news/2001/08/02/armstrong_lemond_ap) 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."[2] (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=1841300) He also declared "Lance is ready to do anything to keep his secret. I don't know how he can continue to convince everybody of his innocence." to newspaper Le Monde [3] (http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=1840215).

External links

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