Cycling | 2 comments
By: Zdenko Kahlina
Big results from Greg LeMond
Only 5 riders have won more titles in the Tour de France and only 4 riders have won more titles in the World Championship Road Race.
Lemond is 1 of only 5 riders to win the Tour de France / World Championship Road Race double in one year.
Lemond won the Tour de France three times, in 1986 in front of Bernard Hinault of France and Urs Zimmermann of Switzerland, in 1989, in front of Laurent Fignon of France and Pedro Delgado of Spain, and in 1990, in front of Claudio Chiappucci of Italy and Erik Breukink of Holland.
Lemond was also 2nd in 1985 behind Bernard Hinault. In addition, Lemond was 3rd in 1984, behind Laurent Fignon and Bernard Hinault. Lemond won the World Championship Road Race twice, in 1983, in front of Adri Van Der Poel of Holland and Stephen Roche of Ireland, and in 1989, in front of Dimitri Konyshev of Russia and Sean Kelly of Ireland. Lemond was also 2nd twice: in 1982 behind Giuseppe Saronni of Italy, and 2nd in 1985, behind Joop Zoetemelk of Holland. In addition, he was 4th in 1990, behind Rudy Dhaenens of Belgium, Dirk De Wolf of Belgium, and Gianni Bugno of Italy. Lemond won the World Championship Road Race Junior title in 1979 then, courted by Bernard Hinault and Coach Cyrille Guimard, turned professional in 1981 and joined the powerful Renault team. He subsequently rode for La Vie Claire, PDM, ADR, Z, and Gan. Lemond’s talent and training dedication paid off when he realized his boyhood ambition to be the first American to win the Tour de France and the World Championship Road Race.
Less than a year later, LeMond was nearly killed in a hunting accident when 60 shotgun pellets entered his body, two of them lodging in the lining of his heart. Though he eventually recovered, it was generally thought that his cycling career was over. After months of rehabilitation, though, LeMond not only returned to racing, he won the Tour de France again in 1989. He also won the world professional road racing championship for a second time and was named sportsman of the year by Sports Illustrated. In 1989, he rode the 1989 Giro d’Italia as training for the Tour de France later that year. He got dropped on most of the climbs, but toward the end of the race started feeling like his old self.
Lemond began the Tour in 1989 just wanting a top 10 finish, or perhaps a top 5 finish. As the race unfolded, however, he proved strong in the time trials and was able to maintain his position on the climbs. Though lacking a strong team, he even was able to wear the yellow jersey as leader of the race for a few days.
Lemond started the last stage, a short 15 mile (25km) time-trial, with a nearly insurmountable 50 second deficit from Laurent Fignon, the Tour de France winner in 1983 and 1984. Miraculously, Lemond won the time-trial by 58 seconds over Fignon, giving Lemond a victory in the Tour by 8 seconds, the smallest margin of victory in the history of the race. Later that year in Chamberry, France, Lemond was able to pull off a rare Tour de France-World Championship Road Race double, by attacking Fignon in the closing stages then sprinting past Dmitri Konyshev of Russia and Sean Kelly of Ireland for victory in the Worlds. Lemond also won another Tour de France title in 1990. Throughout Lemond’s career, he had difficulty maintaining his fitness level during the off-season. As he got older, this presented itself as a greater and greater problem.
In the 1990′s, he wasn’t able to regain a level of fitness required for success in the Tour de France and he retired from racing in 1994.