The Santos Tour Down Under Legends Night will this year honour three-time Tour de France and two-time UCI World Road Race Champion, Greg LeMond.
He joins luminaries including Sir Chris Hoy, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, Anna Meares, Cadel Evans and Mark Cavendish, each of whom has been celebrated during this coveted night of nights.
It’s a ripper evening with Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen always at their absolute best on stage interviewing live. Not only is it a chance to be in the same room with so many of the biggest names in world cycling, but Phil and Paul do a great job (as always) of getting the most out of the candid, hilarious and sometimes pretty emotional interviews.
So ahead of dusting off suits & frocks and sending them to the dry cleaners (no Lycra on this night!), we thought we’d recap just why LeMond will be honoured in 2015, and some of the stand-outs (good and bad) throughout his career.
A Man of Firsts
In 1983 LeMond became the first American male to win an elite UCI World Road Race Championship. One year later and he was the first cyclist ever to sign a multi-million dollar contract. By 1986 at just 25 years of age LeMond became not only the first American to win the Tour de France, but the first native English speaker as well. By 1989 he again created history, this time as the first cyclist to appear on the incredibly coveted cover of Sports Illustrated as Sportsman of the Year; a huge coup for cycling in general.
A Man of Seconds
LeMond has by no means been a one-hit wonder! In ’89 he secured his second Tour de France championship (and then a third the following year) as well as his second UCI World Road Race Championship.
Overcoming Adversity – the Hunting Accident
Anyone familiar with the LeMond story knows he’s lucky to be here. In 1987 he broke his wrist and so returned home to California to recover. It was during his recovery that he ventured out on a hunting trip, where he was accidentally shot and almost died. Images on the net show his chest full of bird shot. He was lucky to survive, yet unlucky to lose two of the prime years of his athletic potential (the time it took for him to make a recovery).
The Badger versus LeMond
LeMond’s stellar career has not been without challenges, one of which came (at the time) from the most unexpected corner…
It’s one of the Tour de France’s more dramatic stories, and has perhaps gone down in history as the ultimate example of team mate betrayal. French cycling superstar Bernard Hinault (aka the Badger) entered the 1986 Tour de France as defending champion, having won five titles previously. Following his incredible success the year prior, Hinault had assured fellow La Vie Claire team mate LeMond of his support in a bid to become the 1986 Tour de France champion. But as the race began it became evident that LeMond might not find it that easy to relinquish his champion title. In a nutshell, the Badger launched a series of attacks against his team leader LeMond, forcing the American to compete against rather than with some of his team. Ultimately, the 86 Tour would belong to LeMond, but not without one heck of a fight from unexpected opponents.
Camp Armstrong versus Camp LeMond
The internet is riddled with stories, rumours and interviews about two riders. We’re not going to delve into this but needless to say at its peak, it appeared as if the riding world was in one of two camps – team Armstrong or team LeMond. It wasn’t until Armstrong admitted to doping that LeMond was cut a lot of slack, and has undergone a kind of public renaissance.
LeMond – the Product
From 1995 – 2008 LeMond bikes were licensed to Trek. The bikes then made a limited edition re-appearance through TIME Bikes in 2013 and in 2014 LeMond released the Washoe roadie – a return to the steel frame and made, hand-painted and assembled in the US.
In 2012 Greg sold LeMond Fitness to Hoist Fitness, but he retained the LeMond Fitness Revolution Windtrainer, considered one of the best products on the market and used by the Garmin-Sharp team in 2014.
Since the Armstrong scandal, LeMond’s profile has continued to rocket. He signed a deal last year with Eurosport which saw him provide analysis of the Grand Tours for tv viewers (we’ve seen figures of 17-million) around the world. That led to a monthly show, LeMond on Tour. Watch out Phil and Paul – he might just turn the table during your interview!