Greg LeMond: The First American To Win The Tour De France

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First American To Win The Tour De France

The first American to win the Tour de France was Greg LeMond. He won the race in 1986, 1989, and 1990. Prior to his victories, Americans had only managed a few top-ten finishes in the Tour de France.

LeMond’s success helped increase the popularity of cycling in the United States.

About Cyclist Greg LeMond

Gregory James “Greg” LeMond (born June 26, 1961) is an American former professional road racing cyclist who won the Road Race World Championship twice and the Tour de France three times.

He is also a multiple winner of the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, making him one of only two riders to win all three Grand Tours in their career. He remains the only person from the United States to have won the Tour de France.

Early years

LeMond was born in Lakewood, California, and raised in ranch country near Reno, Nevada. His parents are Bob LeMond and Bertha, and he has four brothers and sisters. He started racing at age 14, in 1975.

As a junior, he won eight national track, road, and BMX racing championships. He was on the U.S. team that placed third in the 1979 world amateur road race, held in Argentina.

Professional Career

LeMond turned professional in 1981 with the Renault-Elf-Hoonved team and won two minor races that year. The next year he finished fourth overall in Paris–Nice, seventh in Liège–Bastogne–Liège, and tenth in the Tour de France. In 1983 he won stages of both Paris–Nice (including the overall) and Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, as well as placed second in Liège–Bastogne–Liège.

His breakthrough came in 1984 when he won the Tirreno–Adriatico and the Tour de France. The Frenchman Bernard Hinault had been favored to win the race but was not able to hold off LeMond’s challenge. This victory made LeMond the second American (after Andy Hampsten in 1988) to win the Tour de France.

LeMond continued his success in 1985 by winning Milan–San Remo, then taking his first world championship title in the road race held in Colorado Springs. He also won two more stages of the Tour de France and finished second overall behind Hinault.

In 1986, LeMond won his second world championship road race in Colombia. He also won the Tour de France for a second time, becoming the first American to successfully defend his title.

Hunting Accident

LeMond’s career was nearly ended by a hunting accident in April 1987, when he was shot in the back by friends who mistook him for an animal. He underwent five hours of surgery to remove pellets from his body and spent three weeks in intensive care. Doctors told him that he had a 50/50 chance of surviving and that he might never walk again, let alone race bicycles.

Remarkably, LeMond made a full recovery and was back racing by the end of that year. In 1989 he won his third Tour de France, becoming the first person to win the race three times. He also won the Giro d’Italia that year, making him only the second rider (after Eddy Merckx) to win both the Tour and the Giro in the same year.

LeMond continued to race throughout the 1990s, although he never again achieved the level of success he had in his prime. He retired from professional cycling in December 1997.

Post-Retirement

Since retiring from racing, LeMond has been active as a businessman and promoter of the sport of cycling. In 2004 he launched a line of bicycles under his own name, and he has also been involved in the development of power meters and other cycling technology. He is a vocal advocate for increased safety in the sport and has been critical of professional cyclists who use performance-enhancing drugs.

LeMond was inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1992 and the World Cycling Hall of Fame in 1996. In 2000 he was named one of the “100 Greatest North Americans” by Time magazine.