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  Greg Lemond    

Picture courtesy of memoire-du-cyclisme.net
Born on June 26, 1961, Greg Lemond was the most talented rider in the mid to late 1980ís. He was a proven performer in two of the biggest races of the year: the Tour de France and the World Championship Road Race.

Lemond was the most talented cyclist to come from the US. He could sprint, time trial and climb with the best. He was a master at peaking for the big events and was a force in the Grand Tours and one-day races.

Only 4 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.

Lemond won the Junior World Championship Road Race 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.

Lemondís 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.

He won his first Tour de France title in 1986. In early 1987, he returned to America after breaking his wrist in a fall during an early season race. He was hunting with a relative and was accidentally shot. He was rushed to the hospital and almost died.

After a long convalescence, he returned rather slowly to training then to racing. In 1989, he rode the 1989 Giro díItalia 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.

Picture courtesy of www.grahamwatson.com

Picture courtesy of www.overstock.com

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.

Lemond attacked Fignon in the closing stages then sprinted past Dmitri Konyshev of Russia and Sean Kelly of Ireland for victory in the Worlds.

Throughout Lemondís career, he had difficulty maintaining his fitness level during the off-season.

As Lemond got older, this presented itself as a greater and greater problem. In the 1990ís, he wasnít able to regain a level of fitness required for success in the Tour de France and he retired from racing in 1994.

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