The Cycling Hall of Fame 2019: The case for Greg LeMond


Innovator, trailblazer, the man who introduced a kingdom to bike racing and converted the peloton singlehandedly – Greg LeMond is all of this and extra.   When Renault boss Cyrille Guimard approached a cocky 19-yr-vintage American kid and supplied him a seasoned agreement following Lemond’s 1980 win at the Circuit de los Angeles Sarthe, even the best directeur sportif in Tour de France records must have thought it a protracted shot that the gifted blond boy ought to convert his triumphing smile into winning ways on the arena stage.   Guimard didn’t have long to wait, his new protégé taking 5 wins in his debut season, then a silver medal at the 1982 World Championships in Goodwood.

Two weeks later, victory at the 10-stage Tour de l’Avenir confirmed the Renault crew had a future Tour winner on its arms. The following year noticed LeMond end up the primary male American rider to take the rainbow jersey while he completed solo, over a minute beforehand of runner-up Adri van der Poel. This becomes without a doubt one very unique skill certainly.

The Cycling Hall of Fame 2019: The case for Greg LeMond 1

But it would not be Guimard who could gain the rewards of his funding. Corrupt businessman Bernard Tapie dangled a $1 million contract in the front of LeMond’s child blue eyes and lured the American away from Renault in 1985 to his all-celebrity La Vie Claire squad, ostensibly in support of Bernard Hinault – a move that would produce one of the best rivalries in racing history…   If LeMond’s 1984 Grand Boucle debut confirmed tremendous promise – completing 0.33 in the back of team-mate Laurent Fignon – then the following 12 months’ race providing assists for his new chief Hinault become a bitter pill to swallow.

The young dollar becomes the more potent of the two men, yet played 2d mess around to the Frenchman in return for a promise of reversed roles in 1986. It would now not be coming near: the Badger attacked LeMond ceaselessly, but the American held on for the first of his 3 Tour de France wins.   LeMond’s ability to recover and enhance during a Grand Tour had been considered one of his finest properties. His powers of recovery could be examined to the restrict following a nearly deadly-looking coincidence in 1987. His lower back to racing with PDM the following year, his body nonetheless peppered with lead shot. It became no longer a hit. Could he ever get returned to the pinnacle?

Remarkably, 1989 saw LeMond take his second Tour following a so-so Spring, overturning Fignon’s 50-2d benefit entering the very last stage time-trial at the Champs-Élysées to win by the nearest margin in the race’s records – a mere eight seconds. He might win it once more in 1990.   Away from LeMond’s glittering palmarès, his willingness to question the norms of a staid recreation revolutionized motorcycle racing. His inquisitive thoughts caused that 1989 Tour win, tri-bars, and an aero helmet contributing to the exceptional victory as a great deal as his legs. Other experiments, inclusive of the bizarre Scott Drop-In handlebars, were less a success. However, LeMond has never afraid to check the bounds while it got here to his device alternatives.

Nor changed into he terrified of rocking the boat. At the same time, it got here to be an American in a European recreation steeped in a century or extra tradition and superstition. If LeMond fancied a beer and a burger in a global of abstinence and struggling, then he would darned nicely have one and to hell with the opprobrium. If he wanted his spouse Kathy to accompany him at the Tour – an absolute no-no on time – then he might try this too. And if he felt his market price become $1 million at a time while few, if any, riders were incomes that type of cash, then he could make certain he was given it.

French was the game’s default language when LeMond joined the peloton. By the time of his retirement in 1994, English was extensively used – arguably because the American’s effect it. A technology of US motorcycle riders and racing enthusiasts has become addicted to biking due to LeMond’s terrific tale – one that would provide suggestions to the next era of his country’s racers. Kids from across the pond could indeed grow to be biking greats. Greg had shown the way.

Finally, in the technology of omertà and now not ‘spitting in the soup,’ LeMond has always been an outspoken critic of drugs in cycling and dopers – most appreciably, Lance Armstrong. At a time while it might have greatly served his enterprise pastimes to hold schtum, LeMond repeatedly accused his American successor of wrongdoing when others favored holding their counsel. He turned into, of the route, proved completely accurate.   It may also have little referring to his eligibility to enter the Cycling Hall of Fame. However, it needs to be no longer forgotten. When Greg talks, we must pay attention to them.