Greg LeMond Visits White House

Greg LeMond helped raise America’s awareness of bicycling racing another notch beyond winning the Tour de France when he visited the White House for a private meeting with President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office.

Immediately upon leaving the White House, LeMond was confronted with a gaggle of reporters from the White House press corps, all of whom were likely seeing a professional bicycle racer for the first time. He took questions and spoke his replies into a thicket of microphones before him like any member of the Senate or Congress.

“I was shocked to be invited to the White House,” LeMond told reporters. “I didn’t think it would happen. I am happy that I got some recognition for cycling. I think that meeting with the President is my highest award. it is probably the biggest honor in my life to be invited to the White House.”

Accompanying LeMond were his wife, Kathy, and their son Geoffrey, age two and a half. LeMond presented President Reagan with a yellow jersey he had won as race leader in the Tour. President Reagan awarded LeMond with a jar of jelly beans, the President’s favorite candy, and two silver cups which were boxed and wrapped in gold paper embossed with the Presidential seal.

LeMond said the amount of media attention he has had since winning the Tour in Paris has been nearly overwhelming. He said he has been subjected to such a whirlwind of interviews and other engagements that he has had only five hours of sleep a night. “My life has just been nonstop,” he said with a weary smile.

His meeting with the President had to be postponed for a day. “I was feeling sick from exhaustion,” LeMond explained. Fortunately, it was not due to food poisoning. “It has been shocking to see the amount of press coverage I have had during the last few days. People even recognize me on the streets now because they’ve seen me on television.”

He said he was glad to see that his victory in France has helped cycling get more visibility in the United States. “American journalists and the American public don’t understand how important cycling is and how tough it is. All this publicity helps.”

When LeMond was asked if there was an ill will between him and five-time winner Bernard Hinault who had been his chief rival in the Tour despite being his teammate, LeMond smiled and simply shook is head. “We get along well,” he said, adding that Hinault was coming over to ride in the Coors Classic stage race which begins August 9 in San Francisco.

“There is a lot of pressure on me to ride well,” he said. “People saw me win the Tour de France and expect me to win the Coors Classic again like I did last year. Right now I need to spend some time just relaxing. I want to play golf for four or five days. I started playing golf a couple of years ago. I usually shoot 90 to 95 when I play.”

–Peter Nye for Velo-news

LeMond visits White House Velo-news


Greg LeMond Wins the Tour de France!

After what some observers have called the most exciting Tour de France ever, Greg LeMond today completed the 2,542 mile Tour in 110 hours, 35 minutes, and 19 seconds to become the first American to win the race.

Greg LeMond first American to win the Tour de France 1986 Velo-news

With the help of his American teammate Andy Hampsten, Greg LeMond became the first American to win the Tour de France.

Despite repeated attacks throughout the race from his La Vie Claire teammate Bernard Hinault, LeMond bested the French patron and 5-time Tour winner by 3 minutes 10 seconds, overcoming the Badger’s five-minute lead mid-race.

But there was one more minor scare in store for LeMond on today’s final, traditionally ceremonial stage into Paris. The final stage was a marathon 255 km on undulating roads from Cosne-sur-Loire into central Paris. After the champagne and the photos and the general cavorting, there was a crash in the middle of the peloton. At the bottom of the heap was LeMond.

It was a crash caused by inattention, probably induced by extreme fatigue, rather than sabotage. As LeMond picked up himself and his bike, which he inspected and remounted, body and machine were intact.

After a physically and mentally exhausting 4,300 km, 3 weeks, 23 stages, and 110 hours of racing, LeMond, as he began to chase back to the peloton, looked up and was confronted, in the no-man’s-land between him and the pack of riders, by a sight that almost knocked him off his bike again.

Ahead of him, standing on the pedals and slow-pedaling as he waited to pace his American teammate back to the peloton, was Bernard Hinault.

Greg LeMond first American to win the Tour de France 1986 Velo-news

Greg LeMond has won the Tour de France.

Today’s race report was adapted from Richard Moore’s new book Slaying the Badger, an incomparably detailed and highly revealing tale of cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry and the greatest ever Tour de France. Slaying the Badger U.S. edition final cover

Find the book in your local bookstore, bike shop, or online in print and as an e-book:

Hinault Is Worth His Weight in Beans

After Bernard Hinault was weighed so he could be given his weight in coffee by cycling trade sponsor Cafe de Colombia, it was on to stage 22, a 194km ceremonial march from Clermont- Ferrand to Nevers.

A breakaway containing Hampsten, Bauer, and Kiefel was chased down by the Carrera team.

Bomtempi’s sprint victory over Hoste and Vanderaerden looked almost a formality.

LeMond remains in yellow and his victory in Paris tomorrow seems certain.

The stage results:
1. Bontempi 5:12:55 (37.18 kph)
2. Hoste s.t.
3. Vanderaerden s.t.

Watch the final km and sprint finish below:

The Badger Is Slain! Hinault Finally Concedes to LeMond

Today’s stage 21 was a hilly one that finished atop the Puy de Dôme—the spectacular dome-shaped volcanic plug in the Massif Central. The Puy de Dôme is a climb of rich symbolism and incident, where Hinault had fancied claiming his first yellow jersey in 1978, where Eddy Merckx had been punched in the kidneys three years earlier. This year, the mountain’s role is to perhaps allow a challenger to make one last, desperate bid for the yellow jersey.

Hinault led up one of the early climbs, the Croix de l’Homme Mort. But there was a different air about him. He rode with authority, as the patron, but the large group of riders bunched comfortably behind him indicated that the pace he was setting wasn’t ferocious. Hinault was controlling rather than igniting the race. He wasn’t trying to drive a group clear as he had done in the Pyrenees. His goal now seemed more modest: to stay at the head and arrive at the summit first to collect points to consolidate his lead in the King of the Mountains competition.

LeMond kept his loyal teammates Bauer and Hampsten in close attendance, acting as watchdogs, following their master as he moved around the peloton, trying to keep him among the first 20 riders, where it was safer and he could remain vigilant.

In fact, it was Hampsten, not LeMond, who had a problem. A puncture saw him drop back for a wheel change. Yet as he remounted his bike and began to chase, Hampsten was joined by teammates Alain Vigneron and Charly Bérard, who had dropped back when they saw he had a problem. Now they were helping him recapture the peloton. Given the division there’d been in the team, Hampsten was a little surprised, pleasantly surprised. “Hey, thanks,” he told them.

“Are you kidding?” Vigneron responded. “Your fourth place is worth 45,000 francs” [to the pool of money split by the team after the Tour.]

As they began to climb the Puy de Dôme, past an enormous banner that read, “Hinault—6 Tours,” the lead group began to splinter.

Hinault conceded his place at the front. With his job done and his King of the Mountains title secure, he began to slip back. At the summit, LeMond finished among the leaders, in 17th. Hinault came in 34th, 52 seconds farther back. As he approached the line, he eased up, stood on the pedals, and stretched his back. It indicated he wasn’t concerned about losing a little more time.

It was his way of running up the white flag.

Today’s race report was adapted from Richard Moore’s new book Slaying the Badger, an incomparably detailed and highly revealing tale of cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry and the greatest ever Tour de France. Find the book in your local bookstore, bike shop, or online in print and as an e-book:Slaying the Badger U.S. edition final cover