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View Poll Results: Who was the greatest American cyclist: LeMond or Armstrong?
Greg LeMond 49 27.84%
Lance Armstrong 127 72.16%
Voters: 176. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-31-09, 05:39 AM   #1
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Revisit the greatest American cyclist debate: LeMond or Armstrong

The new Bicycling magazine has an in-depth article on LeMond, very interesting read, gives us a chance to revisit the greatest American cyclist debate. Running along the bottom of the article is a timeline "LeMond through the years."

It's mind blowing to read of LeMond's accomplishments -- as a very young man and when he's at his peak in the Tour. Some accomplishments of note:

-- wins just about every junior championship that matters
-- 1985: could have won TDF but rode in support of Hinault
-- 1986: wins TDF despite merciless attacks by Hinault
-- 1987: loses 3/4 of blood supply during hunting accident, breaks two ribs, collapses lung, has pellets lodged in heart, liver, intestines, diaphragm, back, leg, foot, arm and hand. Nearly dies.
-- 1989: wins TDF on final day TT, overcoming 50-second deficit to finish 8 seconds ahead of nearest rival. Closest TDF in history.

** first racer to wear HRM in competition, first to use power meter in competition, introduced aero bars to the world.

Armstrong has accomplished quite a lot, but for my money LeMond was the greatest American cyclist. There is a difficult-to-quantify grittiness about LeMond's career that puts him up top for me. Before LeMond came along, I was riding a Schwinn Scrambler.

I don't see a link to the article online, but it's worth buying the magazine for the read. Just to be reminded of how much work this guy did to get to the top -- and stay there. And yes, the post-cycling-career circus is covered as well.

Please give us your thoughts.

cheers

Last edited by Flash; 07-31-09 at 07:58 AM.
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Old 07-31-09, 05:45 AM   #2
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LA did not take drugs.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:03 AM   #3
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In the long run GL will always come out on the short end of any debate, if for nothing else but because he's from a day gone by and LA is from today. Even if their accomplishments were dead even GL would be at a disadvantage because of this.

All the rest of the subjective stuff and conjectural stuff is just personal opinions, and in the long run -- by the end of this thread -- nothing will be settled . . . . just a lot of personal opinions vehemently expressed.

Sports debate never make any sense.

Now let me find a good seat and whip up some refreshments.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:31 AM   #4
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would a peak Lemond win against a peak Armstrong?Lemond had his peak in 85 or 86 Armstrongs peak was proberly between 99 to 05.I honestly think Lemond would have won just by a few short seconds.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:42 AM   #5
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92.5 ml/kg/min VO2 max... the guy was a freak!
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Old 07-31-09, 06:51 AM   #6
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Can't vote for pcad?
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Old 07-31-09, 06:55 AM   #7
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7 TdF wins, 3rd this year after 3+ year layoff. Coming from a very dirty sport full of cheats, Lance's unbelieveable personal story and humanism have elevated him in a way that is possibly unique. The only other athlete I can can think of that compares on a humanist note is Arthur Ashe. Lemond is a comparative footnote.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:56 AM   #8
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Mods, please move this thread to Professional Cycling subforum for a proper execution and burial.
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Old 07-31-09, 06:58 AM   #9
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I love Greg Lemond. He truly broke new ground for an American cyclist. It's sad that people like Jonathan Boyar, get no respect. With that being said, I wish Lemond would stop with all the criticism & move on with life. Armstrong, love him or hate him, is cycling. He is good for a sport that needs his personality. Lemond wins based on pure talent but Armstrong wins on shear determination.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:00 AM   #10
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You can certainly make a campaign contribution. PM me for Paypal instructions.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:08 AM   #11
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Mods, please move this thread to Professional Cycling subforum for a proper execution and burial.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:18 AM   #12
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Lemond certainly has the claim for the greatest cycling finish ever...any race, any era.

I watched the '89 finish "live", so to speak. At that time the Tour was covered by ABC Wide World of Sports in a one show summary format that was broadcast on the same day as the final stage.

On TV, during the actual race, ABC was broadcasting the final round of the British Open. The golf announcers interrupted their regular commentary to report the incredible finish and victory by Lemond. Imagine, the British Open coverage being interrupted by a bike race result. At that time the Tour was about as popular as rugby.

After the British Open ended ABC went to the Tour coverage. Even though I knew the outcome it was absolutely riveting to hear Phil (and I think Paul too) broadcast that last, short, amazing time trial finish.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:34 AM   #13
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LA all the way. He will win the Leadville 100 this year too. LA is also a gifted triathlete and marathon runner and while these are tangential items I think it shows him to be the better all around athlete. Plus, he's saving lives not rehashing the past in a bitter way. Don't get me wrong, I do like GL and what he did. Wish he'd just move on and help build the sport.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:51 AM   #14
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Nobody will ever beat Lemond winning the '89 TdF by 8 seconds, and to this day, that ride is the FASTEST individual TT average speed ever recorded @ the Tour de France. That was over the top. If you tried to sell that script to Hollywood, they'd reject it as too far fetched. I'll never forget Fignon collapsing on the ground in tears when he realized Lemond had beaten him. What a race.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:52 AM   #15
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Lemond certainly has the claim for the greatest cycling finish ever...any race, any era.

I watched the '89 finish "live", so to speak. At that time the Tour was covered by ABC Wide World of Sports in a one show summary format that was broadcast on the same day as the final stage.

On TV, during the actual race, ABC was broadcasting the final round of the British Open. The golf announcers interrupted their regular commentary to report the incredible finish and victory by Lemond. Imagine, the British Open coverage being interrupted by a bike race result. At that time the Tour was about as popular as rugby.

After the British Open ended ABC went to the Tour coverage. Even though I knew the outcome it was absolutely riveting to hear Phil (and I think Paul too) broadcast that last, short, amazing time trial finish.
Me too. I think it's safe to say we'll never see events align like this again.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:54 AM   #16
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Nobody will ever beat Lemond winning the '89 TdF by 8 seconds, and to this day, that ride is the FASTEST individual TT average speed ever recorded @ the Tour de France. That was over the top. If you tried to sell that script to Hollywood, they'd reject it as too far fetched. I'll never forget Fignon collapsing on the ground in tears when he realized Lemond had beaten him. What a race.
I still can't believe that this TT time still stands today. I wonder which bike he rode that day, specs, etc.
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Old 07-31-09, 07:56 AM   #17
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Mods, please move this thread to Professional Cycling subforum for a proper execution and burial.
Please explain why you are opposed to revisiting this debate. The recent Bicycling magazine article on Lemond is bound to stir debate yet again. Why not discuss it here?
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Old 07-31-09, 08:01 AM   #18
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Armstrong has been very good at doing one thing, repeatedly winning the Tour de France. But bicycle racing is not exclusively the Tour de France. There's also the Giro and the Vuelta which are arguably as difficult as the tour. In addition, there are the many European classics.

Lance Armstrong has essentially ignored the Vuelta and the Giro and the other great European classics to focus exclusively on the tour. Because of that, he will never be in the same league as Mercx or Hinault, who in addition to winning multiple tours, also won the Giro or the Vuelta in the same years that they won the tour, as well as other major classics in the same year that they won the tour. And then there is the ultimate challenge, the hour record, which Mercx held for over 20 years and which Armstrong has never attempted.

Comparing Armstrong and Lemonds records, I would say they're just about even. Le Monde rode and won or placed high in many more classics than Armstrong did, which more than makes up for the fact that Armstrong has more Tour wins.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:13 AM   #19
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Lemond's victories were mostly "seat of the pants" efforts, more like a good boxing match. A constant battle for control through the entire race (85, 86 & 89). Lemond also won with very little help from a team. That's the difference in Lemond & Armstrong. Armstrong calculated every move & surrounded himself with a super strong team, more like a game of chess.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:15 AM   #20
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My take is that as athletes, they were probably very close in ability in their prime. As far as building a team, promoting the sport, creating excitement, etc., you can't argue with Lance's success. Much of that was a result of beating cancer and getting around that cause. While Greg's hunting accident rebound is amazing, it doesn't have the long-term media impact that Lance's cancer or the power of the Livestrong organization. Lance's story is really unbelievable whether you like the guy or not. In my book, the stuff off the bike is part of being a professional cyclist and Lance's history and actions tip the scales heaviliy in his favor.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:19 AM   #21
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The debate is valid... in Professional Cycling, where I am moving this.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:20 AM   #22
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Armstrong has been very good at doing one thing, repeatedly winning the Tour de France. But bicycle racing is not exclusively the Tour de France. There's also the Giro and the Vuelta which are arguably as difficult as the tour. In addition, there are the many European classics.

Lance Armstrong has essentially ignored the Vuelta and the Giro and the other great European classics to focus exclusively on the tour. Because of that, he will never be in the same league as Mercx or Hinault, who in addition to winning multiple tours, also won the Giro or the Vuelta in the same years that they won the tour, as well as other major classics in the same year that they won the tour. And then there is the ultimate challenge, the hour record, which Mercx held for over 20 years and which Armstrong has never attempted.

Comparing Armstrong and Lemonds records, I would say they're just about even. Le Monde rode and won or placed high in many more classics than Armstrong did, which more than makes up for the fact that Armstrong has more Tour wins.
Those are very good points you make. I can see an argument for both sides. Were it up to personality and "likeability" I'd have to give the nod to LA still, at least in my book. As far as the ITT I just do NOT get it. You have road conditions, wind...etc. It's like saying the downhill ski record at Whiteface was set in 1990 and never beaten, but the conditions may never be like that. So unless someone ran the IDENTICAL conditions and temperature and similar bike...etc how can you say it's the best ITT?
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Old 07-31-09, 08:22 AM   #23
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I don't see what the problem would be in discussing this thread in road cycling. It's starting to look like road cycling forum is being reserved for wheel comparisons, frame comparisons, gruppo comparisons, HRM comparisons and other such mundane and tiresome topics.

If you're content with your current bike & components, how many people are interested in these narrow-focused comparison threads, really?
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Last edited by BillyD; 07-31-09 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:36 AM   #24
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Those are very good points you make. I can see an argument for both sides. Were it up to personality and "likeability" I'd have to give the nod to LA still, at least in my book. As far as the ITT I just do NOT get it. You have road conditions, wind...etc. It's like saying the downhill ski record at Whiteface was set in 1990 and never beaten, but the conditions may never be like that. So unless someone ran the IDENTICAL conditions and temperature and similar bike...etc how can you say it's the best ITT?
Without a doubt. Lemond would never win any popularity contests. Lemond is a whiny, butt-insky that is borderline crazy.
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Old 07-31-09, 08:50 AM   #25
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-- 1985: could have won TDF but rode in support of Hinault
speculative, unlikely

Quote:
-- 1986: wins TDF despite merciless attacks by Hinault
ok

Quote:
-- 1987: loses 3/4 of blood supply during hunting accident, breaks two ribs, collapses lung, has pellets lodged in heart, liver, intestines, diaphragm, back, leg, foot, arm and hand. Nearly dies.
his turkey impressions were incredibly realistic

Quote:
** first racer to wear HRM in competition,
debatable

Quote:
introduced aero bars to the world.
incorrect

Quote:
Nobody will ever beat Lemond winning the '89 TdF by 8 seconds, and to this day, that ride is the FASTEST individual TT average speed ever recorded @ the Tour de France.
technically incorrrect. Boardman and Zabriske have gone faster.
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