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Greg Lemond is my hero

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Greg Lemond is my hero

Old 08-02-23, 11:16 AM
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Greg Lemond is my hero

I took my wife to see his documentary of his life leading up to his 1986 Tour de France win. She loved it, even though she's not a cyclist. All the drama, with the back-stabbing French...

Here's a new interview of him from 5 days ago; it only cements what a good, down-to-earth guy he is:

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Old 08-02-23, 12:14 PM
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A key take-away for me is that after he was shot in 1987, his right lung never regained its full capacity. He won the TdF AGAIN, despite not having his full lung capacity!
Then, in 1991, it became clear that others were doping. Lemond said he was even stronger in '91 than in '90, when he won.
I think if not for the shooting, he would have likely won the '87 and '88 Tours and if not for doping, he would likely have won in '91 and maybe even beyond.
I attribute this to his character and genetically high VO2 Max.

What do you think?
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Old 08-04-23, 05:27 PM
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What kind of of shocked me in the podcast is he felt empathy for the current World Tour Pros for having to trim their weight to a point where they look famished.
Greg raced at 158 lbs at 5'10 and was a muscular, trim beast.
He is very grounded and just a lot of fun to listen to because of his enthusiasm.
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Old 08-04-23, 11:45 PM
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Yup, good guy. He's a bit younger than I and I followed his career via cycling magazines from the time he was a teenager. It was clear very early on he was born for bicycle racing.

If you watch videos of entire races, or lightly edited races, you can see why he was so successful within the fairly limited context of the Tour de France and World championship. He never had the kind of dedicated team support we commonly see now, none of the longterm contracts and lasting partnership to depend on from year to year. He learned early on under the tour boss/patron system, watching and competing with Bernard Hinault, who may have been the toughest patron in TdF history. Over the course of long races you can see LeMond riding essentially solo, as he had no teammates who could keep up with him, so he would encourage, cajole, badger, bark and demand other competitors to work together to give them all a clear shot at a win. He improvised very well as long, grueling stages progressed, adapting to not only the course and conditions, but to whomever was available from the remains of the shredded peloton.

And he was pretty tech savvy and willing to try anything new, and readily discarded outmoded or incorrect theories if they proved to be useless. I recall years ago he talked about falling for the myth about longer cranks giving some advantages, then later switching to shorter cranks that suited him better. He and Laurent Fignon had access to the same aerodynamic tech for the 1989 TdF -- aero helmets, disc wheels, aero bars -- and Fignon used an aero helmet and disc wheels in the earlier time trial. This detail is often omitted in retrospectives about how LeMond overtook Fignon by seconds in the closing time trial, using the aero bars that had mostly been used by triathletes, but had also been used in one or two previous stage races that same season. I'm not sure whether Fignon's vanity was a factor, but he might have held onto the win if he'd worn the aero helmet he'd used earlier. If I'm recalling correctly, that final TT leading into Paris was a course that was mostly a gradual downhill and with a bit of tail wind that day.

LeMond could also be a bit impatient, snippy and petulant during interviews after tough stages in the Tour, but I figured that was just part of the package with intensely competitive athletes. My background was amateur boxing -- lots of macho attitude among many competitors (I remember Ray Leonard declaring in his final national Golden Gloves before the 1976 Olympics, "I expect to win here.") -- so it was no big deal seeing athletes from other sports who occasionally showed a bit of arrogance and lapses in public charm.

I recall some occasional criticism of LeMond's racing style back then, because he was very opportunistic and savvy about how to win. Because he often lacked reliable team or even a partner who could pull him throughout an entire stage, he'd often stay on the wheels of competitors, declining to take pulls until it suited his strengths... at which time he could be demanding of others. But cycle racing is a bizarre competition that has nothing comparable in any other sport. It's more like playing cutthroat Monopoly than anything else. And he focused mainly on the TdF and World championship, during an era when Europeans tended to compete all year, from the spring classics through the various smaller stage races, the crits that helped pay the bills and return favors to promoters and supporters, etc. LeMond was still an outsider and didn't have that kind of year round support to race the way Merckx, Hinault and others did.

It was also charming to get glimpses of LeMond's home life.

I won't say we'll never see the likes of LeMond again. Peter Sagan has been just as exciting in his own way, and it's a damn shame to see how injuries and lingering effects from multiple bouts with COVID have depleted him. But he's the closest I've seen to LeMond in my lifetime.
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Old 08-05-23, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by CAT7RDR
Greg raced at 158 lbs at 5'10 and was a muscular, trim beast.
Exactly... he was the kind of racer that I would prefer to emulate in real-life in terms of physique. I.e., he had overall good upper and low body strength rather than looking like an anorexic athlete with oversized legs. Being super lean might win races, but for overall health on and off the bike, I just don't think it's a good idea.
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Old 08-05-23, 07:59 AM
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Thanks for posting the video. (for me) It really filled in some blanks about what was happening in the 1985-1990 time frame in terms of Lemond and the whole Lance thing as well as the '85/'86 Hinault relationship. Even more so than Lemond's recent documentary. The discussion about VO2 max and detecting doping via data analysis(being a former large-data anaylst myself) was also very enlightening.

Very good video/interview. They mentioned at the end there may be a part two interview covering the 1990 TdF...looking forward to it.
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Old 08-05-23, 11:37 AM
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I canít say I know much detail about Lemond, but as an engineer I really liked his enthusiasm for new technology and questioning the old-school bike folklore. He always comes across as an interesting character and I keep meaning to read more about him. I was still at school when he was in his prime and I remember watching that famous Tour winning Paris TT. Looking back you have to wonder what Fignon was thinking in not using an aero bike there.
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Old 08-06-23, 05:28 AM
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I saw him at the swap meet at the T-Town velodrome around 2006. He was about to go for a ride with two other guys, but he stopped and engaged a small but interested crowd. Seemed like a nice guy. Had his last name prominently displayed on his down tube.
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Old 08-06-23, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat
And he focused mainly on the TdF and World championship, during an era when Europeans tended to compete all year, from the spring classics through the various smaller stage races, the crits that helped pay the bills
While he focused only on a couple races, he still did the other races like everyone else. He was often dropped during the early season. I still remember in one of the Tour de Trump or Tour DuPont, he was off the back so far that they gave him a pump and a tubular.

​​​​​​My best memory of him being the team leader was when Atle was leading the Tour DuPont, some guy attacked in the feed zone, LeMond was dealing with his musette and held a bottle in his mouth and chased the guy down and basically told him NO.
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Old 08-06-23, 10:59 AM
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My biggest admiration for Greg Lemond is on his willingness to call a spade a spade. On drugs. On the doings of LA and the Postal/Discovery team. Of his willingness to not stay silent. And doing this at real cost to him, his family and his bank account. He was the guy who knew and could not be silenced.
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Old 08-06-23, 11:03 AM
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Doping was an excuse. Lemond lost 3 years of competitive racing with his hunting accident and by the time his body recovered he was no longer competive and that is clear from the results. Lemond was one of the last of his generation of seasonal racers. They would take it easy during the falln and winter months and then starting in early spring they would work to get back in shape for the coming season.

What made Lance such a great racer was that he trained 12 months of the year. Armstrong was the number one rated triathete under the age of 19 in the United States in 1988 when he was only 17. It is also naive to think that only a few bicyclists used some way to enhance their performance as this has been going on for as long as there has been professional racing. The concern arose initially with the death of British rider Tom Simpson in 1967 on the Tour de France when he experienced heat stroke and heart failure from dehytration that was the result of his taking amphetimines and alcohol.

At this point we have athletes that cannot use an over the counter decongestant but are allowed to use a asthma inhaler which greatly improves performance. Athletes use low oxygen tents to up their red blood cell count and use transfusions to add more blood before a race and other means to have an edge over competitors who are doing the same. Lance says he was clean but we have to take his word for it as it means when he was racing the drug testing was far less prevalent and far less sophisticated.
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Old 08-06-23, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
Lance says he was clean but we have to take his word for it .
I can't think of a single reason to take Lance's word for anything.
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Old 08-06-23, 01:58 PM
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I remember sitting at a table with Floyd Landis during his "I'm Innocent!!" tour, and the audience applauding and so wanting to believe a gutsy up-from-the-ranks US racer winning the Tour de France. But it all inevitably came out later. Floyd and his current businesses seem to be doing OK, and I wish him well in them. But I'll never forget him saying what he said - and later finding out it wasn't true. Credibility lost is never truly regained.
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Old 08-06-23, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
What made Lance such a great racer was...
I can think of a few reasons why Lance was a great racer. Not all of them are strictly training.
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Old 08-06-23, 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield
Exactly... he was the kind of racer that I would prefer to emulate in real-life in terms of physique. I.e., he had overall good upper and low body strength rather than looking like an anorexic athlete with oversized legs. Being super lean might win races, but for overall health on and off the bike, I just don't think it's a good idea.

Not really sure where thatís coming from. Multiple sources list Lemond at 148lbs, and thatís likely heavy for his peak shape mid TDF.

he had a bout the same physique as Pogacar. https://www.topendsports.com/sport/c...nce-tables.htm. https://www.pelotonperspectives.com/...ogaar-v-lemond

I remember seeing photos of Lemond with his shirt off where he looked anorexic.
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Old 08-06-23, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
Lance says he was clean but we have to take his word for it as it means when he was racing the drug testing was far less prevalent and far less sophisticated.
huh?
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Old 08-06-23, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Not really sure where thatís coming from. Multiple sources list Lemond at 148lbs, and thatís likely heavy for his peak shape mid TDF
....
I remember seeing photos of Lemond with his shirt off where he looked anorexic.
This image is stuck in my brain. I see arm muscles. I'm sure he had his "anorexic days" as well, I just remember in shots like this. Note that Greg discusses today's riders dieting and potentially losing muscle mass around the 23:00 mark in the video:

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Old 08-06-23, 04:12 PM
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Then there’s this:


a little bicep there, but pretty skinny. I’m sure if you ask Lemond, he was totally focused on being as light as possible, without compromising his power output.

I’m
sure he was not concerned about having a healthy body with a nice balance of upper body muscle if it cost a him any climbing speed.
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Old 08-06-23, 06:01 PM
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The unfortunate thing to me about this thread is that any discussion of Lemond ultimately devolves to the Armstrong debacle.

Armstrong did not invent doping in cycling, but his approach to it, and his scorched earth approach to cover his tracks, harmed many people, including Lemond.

Lemond stood up to him, and while he was eventually vindicated, he paid a heavy price. We should be discussing Lemond’s achievements in their own right with without the taint of Lance Armstrong.
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Old 08-06-23, 06:10 PM
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Where do I find this magical documentary?
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Old 08-06-23, 08:27 PM
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To be fair, cyclist in LeMond's era put away their road bikes after World's and pull out their cyclocross bikes and cross country skis for winter. LeMond did like his Mexican food a little too much during the off season.

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Old 08-07-23, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield
Exactly... he was the kind of racer that I would prefer to emulate in real-life in terms of physique. I.e., he had overall good upper and low body strength rather than looking like an anorexic athlete with oversized legs. Being super lean might win races, but for overall health on and off the bike, I just don't think it's a good idea.
Me neither.

Originally Posted by fishboat
...They mentioned at the end there may be a part two interview covering the 1990 TdF...looking forward to it.
Me too! Everything I've seen on him so far just cuts off after the 1989 TdF, as it was so dramatic they spent all their time on it.

Originally Posted by PeteHski
I canít say I know much detail about Lemond, but as an engineer I really liked his enthusiasm for new technology and questioning the old-school bike folklore. He always comes across as an interesting character and I keep meaning to read more about him. I was still at school when he was in his prime and I remember watching that famous Tour winning Paris TT. Looking back you have to wonder what Fignon was thinking in not using an aero bike there.
Being the arrogant twit he was, he was thinking he would beat Lemond on a regular bike with no helmet and a pony tail and that would be another bragging point later.

Originally Posted by merlinextraligh
Not really sure where thatís coming from. Multiple sources list Lemond at 148lbs, and thatís likely heavy for his peak shape mid TDF.

he had a bout the same physique as Pogacar. https://www.topendsports.com/sport/c...nce-tables.htm. https://www.pelotonperspectives.com/...ogaar-v-lemond

I remember seeing photos of Lemond with his shirt off where he looked anorexic.
Well, 5'10 and 148 is thin, (especially considering the leg muscle) but nothing like Jonas Vingegaard @ 5'9 and 132 lbs. The current guys give up some power to keep weight low with a resultant higher power:weight ratio. Lemond doesn't like that idea. Lemond's arms were positively RIPPED compared to Vingegaard's, for example. Part of that was having only 2-3% body fat and normal muscle mass.

Originally Posted by urbanknight
Where do I find this magical documentary?
In the original post. Someone posted it again in Post #17.
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Old 08-07-23, 09:01 AM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
Where do I find this magical documentary?
It's called "The Last Rider" and I am sure you can find it via Google or other measures.

The links in this thread are for an interview which is good but NOT the documentary in question.
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Old 08-07-23, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Smaug1
Well, 5'10 and 148 is thin, (especially considering the leg muscle) but nothing like Jonas Vingegaard @ 5'9 and 132 lbs. The current guys give up some power to keep weight low with a resultant higher power:weight ratio. Lemond doesn't like that idea. Lemond's arms were positively RIPPED compared to Vingegaard's, for example. Part of that was having only 2-3% body fat and normal muscle mass.
Part of me was pulling for Pogacar over Vingegaard because he looked more like a healthy guy, at 5'9" and 146 lbs. Still thin, but he looks healthy, happy, and well within what I would call normal for a genetically thin young man in his early 20s.


(to be fair, I also like him more because he just seems like a nice, genuine dude. Not that Vingegaard isn't, but Pogacar does seem less wooden overall).
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Old 08-07-23, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Calsun
Doping was an excuse. Lemond lost 3 years of competitive racing with his hunting accident and by the time his body recovered he was no longer competive and that is clear from the results. Lemond was one of the last of his generation of seasonal racers. They would take it easy during the falln and winter months and then starting in early spring they would work to get back in shape for the coming season.

What made Lance such a great racer was that he trained 12 months of the year. Armstrong was the number one rated triathete under the age of 19 in the United States in 1988 when he was only 17. It is also naive to think that only a few bicyclists used some way to enhance their performance as this has been going on for as long as there has been professional racing. The concern arose initially with the death of British rider Tom Simpson in 1967 on the Tour de France when he experienced heat stroke and heart failure from dehytration that was the result of his taking amphetimines and alcohol.

At this point we have athletes that cannot use an over the counter decongestant but are allowed to use a asthma inhaler which greatly improves performance. Athletes use low oxygen tents to up their red blood cell count and use transfusions to add more blood before a race and other means to have an edge over competitors who are doing the same. Lance says he was clean but we have to take his word for it as it means when he was racing the drug testing was far less prevalent and far less sophisticated.
https://www.triathlete.com/training/...ke-you-faster/
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