Greg LEMOND: 20 Minutes With PEZ
There I was, at the ADT center surrounded by some of the biggest speedsters in the world of bicycle racing. These guys were tough, mean and serious looking. Then there was the mild mannered, fit looking guy with graying hair with that famous little smile on his face – the first American to win the Tour de France – Greg Lemond!
So amongst all these gigantic bags of muscles, who would expect to see one of the greatest road racers of all time? Yet there he was. Greg Lemond was signing autographs for a long line of fans when I first caught up to him. He was there with 8 time US National Champion Paul Swift who now does R&D for Lemond Fitness Company. Paul is a friend of mine, and before I knew it, I was sitting down with Lemond himself. Of course it didn’t hurt that they had both read the PEZ review on his LeWedges.
First, a little background. Everyone knows about Greg’s historic 8-second defeat of Laurent Fignon and his incredible come back from a near fatal hunting accident, but what might have been forgotten is that Lemond used to race a full season. Many people think that had he not been shot, Lemond could have easily tied the old record of 5 while at the same time, competing in the classics and the grand tours, placing him solidly in the history books along side such riders as Anquetil and Merckx.
I first asked Greg about what his connection to the newly build ADT Center was. It turns out Roger Young, the track director is a big fan of the Lemond Spinner and wants to use them on a permanent basis at the track. Greg hasn’t ridden on the track in quite some time, but he pointed out that track racing was really the standard when he was a junior and he pretty much competed in the state track championships until he turned pro.
I asked Greg about his company, and his riding habits, but mostly he just wanted to chat. The subject turned to coaching and he said that while he has no plans to doing any direct coaching, he does try to support racing at the developmental level as much as possible. I also tried to give him the chance to pitch some of his hot new products, but once again he really just wanted to keep things casual. Perhaps he was relieved just to talk to a fan rather than a pushy reporter grilling him on his comments regarding drug use and Armstrong.
At the end of our conversation (Paul had to drag him away), I felt like I had made a new friend. Despite all the rumors and other media reports, Greg came across as a guy who truly loves the sport and wants to stay involved with it at whatever level he can. As someone who had just completed his first season of racing (at age 14) when Greg pulled off his miraculous win over Laurent Fignon, this was truly an experience I will remember.