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Greg is facing some interesting "issues."(15 posts)

Greg is facing some interesting "issues."LAIrish
Jul 15, 2002 3:39 PM
There have been several comments regarding Greg Lemond's evident lack of enthusiasm for Lance Armstrong. Although I agree that graciousness is almost always the better course, we should consider that Greg is probably confronting some very difficult issues as Lance races for his 4th tour title.

Until last year, Lemond was clearly the greatest American cyclist ever. He won three consecutive TdF's and thereby brought competitive cycling into America's conciousness. (I would never have been aware of Indurain's 5 consecutive victories if it hadn't been for the fact that Lemond had won his three.) He had a brilliant career that was tragically cut short. But he was still THE American name in cycling. (After all, you don't see Boyer Bicycles.)

Lance's third win, coupled with the emotional appeal of his comeback from cancer (American's most feared disease), brought him fame and fortune unlike anything Lemond had ever seen. And the press has, to a very great degree, simply ignored Greg and his accomplishments. That has to be a bit galling. Add to that the fact that Armstrong is ACTUALLY replacing Greg as America's most accomplished rider, and you can see that this has to be a trying time for Greg.

Imagine this: You were the greatest ever, from your country, in your sport, which was almost completely unknown in your country before your work. (In that sense, it would not be too far a stretch to consider you the "father" of the sport in the modern sense.) Your career is tragically shortened by an accident but you continue to labor and and work to better your sport. You are well rewarded for your work, but the mainstream press pretty much forgets about you. A mere 10 or so years later, the mass media becomes spectacularly enamored with another athelete in your sport. He has accomplished no more than you did (althoug he probably will), but he receives fame and fortune on a scale of which you would not have dreamed. Even his "tragedy" is considered of higher quality than yours (though yours ended your career while his did not). The media suddenly rediscovers you, but only to compare you (usually unfavorably) to this new phenom.

Moreover, you can't really fault the guy. He does work harder than anyone ever has before and will almost certainly win another tour (or two or three). And he did overcome a disease which leaves most people flat out dead by undergoing an course of treatment that would be considered actual torture if it didn't have medical benefits. So there's no good outlet for your perfectly natural jealousy/ disappointment/or whatever it is.

You can start to understand why Greg might get a little testy.
re: Actually.....LeMond didnt win 3 in a row &cyclejim
Jul 15, 2002 7:22 PM
his career wasnt tragically cut short. But I see what you are trying to say. He may have some issues dealing with Lances fame, but I mean come on, its not like most of American public really gives a rats ass about cycling anyway. Most of the people I know and work with dont even know the Tour de France has started!
agree with your sentiment but your history is a little offJekyll
Jul 15, 2002 7:40 PM
Lemond never won three tours in a row as you allege: He won 1986, 1989 & 1990.
Lemond has also been his own worst enemy. His attitude and commentary toward Armstrong, who he quite obviously dislikes (and I think this is on a personal level and not just professional rivalry, etc), has always seemed to backfire on him. He needs to understand that Armstrong is the new media darling, with the great legs and heart and one hell of a compelling story. Lemond could have acted like the "father" (as you call him) of American cycling (though that's a little grand a title for him to wear), but he instead chose to let Armstrong's popularity and success poison him.
Greg did just fine $$ wise in his hey dayOld_school_nik
Jul 16, 2002 3:01 AM
I remember seeing Greg listed up there with golfers and Michael Jordan in annual earnings - I think he did just fine when he was big - I agree it must be a tough pill to swallow - but Merckx and Hinault don't some to have too much trouble being gracious to other successful riders??
Greg set the bar $$ wise.Sintesi
Jul 16, 2002 4:42 AM
I believe he was the first million dollar man in cycling. After Greg, a cyclists earning potential went up considerably. No need to feel sympathy for Greg, he is wealthy, well regarded (especially in France) and owns a unique place in history as the "first american" to win the Tour. Not to mention, the media often leaves out the good that Greg may have said about LA.
re: Greg is facing some interesting "issues."DeRosaOrBust
Jul 16, 2002 7:21 AM
You know, if Lemond hadn't been shot by his brother in law after the 1986 Tour, he would have won at least 2 more tours. People forget that he sat out a couple years. Years where he had hit his peak. In 1986, he was dominant. Only Hinault stood in his way of his victory and they were on the same team. Lemond won the 1986 tour basically with only two team members (hampsten and baur). The other half was helping Hinault. There is no doubt that Lemond would have won in 87 and 88. Stephan Roche was a great rider, but in previous tours he wasn't quite the same caliber as Lemond was in 86. I love Pedro Delgado's climbing abilities , but in 88 Lemond would have crucified him in the TT's. Who knows how much the effects of having been shot had on Lemond's body? Not as much as the cancer that Lance has I'm sure. But if it hadn't been for that tragic accident, I'm sure Lemond would have been in that 5 tour victory group. Anyone that watched him race, knows that Lemond was in the same league as Lance. I love Lance as much or more then Greg; But I have as much respect for Lemond as I do Armstrong in terms of talent and ability. I would have loved to see these two go head to head.
re: Greg is facing some interesting "issues."JSchneb
Jul 16, 2002 9:04 AM
I would even go one up and say that Lemond was more talented than Lance. He was 3rd in is first TdF, 2nd in his 2nd and won his 3rd. LA didn't even finish the Tour until after cancer.

That being said, everyone who knows anything about cycling knows that Lemond could have easily won 5 or more tours (could have won in '85, won '86, would have won '87 & '88, won '89 & '90 and was still a contender in '91). I count at least 6 victories... My beef is that in the face of Lance's success, Lemond has to keep reminding everyone of this.
um...mr_spin
Jul 16, 2002 10:58 AM
Lance finished the 1995 tour, which was pre-cancer. He won a stage, too. Took second on an earlier stage after a two-man break.
um...JSchneb
Jul 17, 2002 6:31 AM
Please, excuse my slight oversite...

What did LA place, like 35th or something? The point is, while he's obviously talented, there are those who are more talented (Hinault, LeMond & Ulrich to name a few; they've all placed in the top 2 or 3 in their 1st TdF).

Yes, LA is talented, but I'm of the opinion that his success is due more to hard work and preparation than talent.
um...atpjunkie
Jul 17, 2002 2:42 PM
Okay you guys are missing the point. To try to draw any comparison of LA pre cancer to his post cancer careers is comparing apples to oranges. LA pre cancer was a 1 day classics racer like Hincapie today. He was heavier, a bigger gear pusher and lacked the physique and mental toughness to get through the mountains of a grand tour.
It was the transformation both physically and mentally by cancer that turned LA into the GC dominator he is today. He is nearly 20 lbs lighter and a completely different rider in form and style.
So in reality, new Lance has 3 1sts (3 for 3) as he is basically a whole new person and rider and to try to draw any comparisons with his old self lacks any argumentative merit.
RE: Lemond, I understand his bitterness. He gave what would have been his first TdF victory to Hinault on a silver platter, which IMHO makes them both possessors of 4 victories. The hunting accident and the rare disease he got at the end of his career robbed him of winning 5 or 6 total. He's about to be eclipsed by LA as the best American Cyclist and this Chaps him. Greg rocked, I was a huge fan and actually still have a La Vie Claire Team Jersey from when they used to have the Coors Tour here in America but he needs to lighten up and show some class. It's just his ego and it makes him less of an idol.
RE: Talent and Success, it sounds as if you never were nor never knew a competitive athelete. What separates the greats from the rest is the combination of talent and attitude. You can't train someone who lacks natural ability to be great nor can you motivate a great natural talent who lacks the mental discipline.
There a plenty of natural talents at the back of the Peloton, it's the discipline of LA to maximize that talent that puts him on the podium. Look at Indurain's attempt at a 6th TdF. He came in both overconfident and overweight and suffered. So his 'talent' wasn't enough. Eddy was a racing and traing animal, living a monk like existence in the party time 60's and 70's. To try to separate the 2 (mental and physical) is just plain silly. Look at other sports, both Michael Jordan and Jerry Rice were known for intense off season preparation and work ethics that allowed them to optimize their gifts and dominate their respective sports. It's the hard work with the talent that puts you on top. Look at Ullrich, not known for great off season habits and now a bit of X and he will be remembered as an also ran. He is Polidor to LA's Anquitel. He is burned out as he was a child product of the East German sports machine. That is why he was so good, so young as he had someone else (the politburo) 'creating' his motivation. Hopefully he can re-find the joy or he'll disappear.
Lances early successes (pre cancer) showed he had the "talent", his transformation will turn him into one of the best of the best.
Eddy said it himself, LA can win 7 barring tragedy and I think Eddy knows talent better than all of us.
um...JSchneb
Jul 18, 2002 3:45 AM
Well said!

I wasn't denying LA's talent, I was just saying that I think that I feel his success is due more to his hard work and prep. that just raw talent. Ullrich is raw talent, and I think that if he took trained w/the same discipline as LA he would be unbeatable.

BTW - I do know some talented guys... I train like hell, and I have some good results. I have a friend that I ride with that gets on his bike maybe once a month, and when he does no one can keep up w/him! He doesn't watch his diet or do anything else that is specific to cycling - he just gets on his bike and rides once and a while. On the trails, he keeps up w/Expert-class MTB racers in our area w/no problem...

I do everyting right, and I can barely hang w/him! That's what I mean about tallent!
um...atpjunkie
Jul 18, 2002 12:24 PM
That's my point as well. I'm a Clydesdale cyclist but was a Div 1 Rower. As far as cycling I keep up with most I ride with by training like hell. I can hold my own on flats , TT's, and rolling stuff but suffer like an animal on the big climbs. I have the work ethic and attitude but have gravity against me.
Remember Lance was World Champ pre cancer and a TdF stage plus Classics winner so don't write off his "free stuff...natural talent" which most seem to dismiss. He was winning pro triathalons in high school as well. Yeah Ullrich has it, like your friend does, but lacks the intangible, and you have to factor that in to the "total talent" package. That is what separates the winners from the also rans. Ullrichs "raw talent" I don't think is that raw, he was groomed from his pre teens to where he is now by the best coaches and trainers the Warsaw Pact could produce. He has probably more pre teen coaching and training than most riders in the tour. So I'm suspicious of how much is "raw", how much is from his training and how much is from whatever crap they pumped in him as a kid. (Remember all those East German female swimmers?) and they told them they were vitamin shots!
I bet if you had your friends raw stuff you'd podium constantly and if he had your ethic he'd be a Pro, but he's lazy so he's an ass kicking recreational rider. Like I said to be a champ you gotta have both and all of us possess a little mix of both but not the whole combo plate. Ullrich lacks a little of the side dishes, while Merckx, Anquitel, Indurain, Hinault and LA have the #1 plate, with a side of salsa.
..and you know Lance wanted to do well on or near Lemonds beloved Tourmalet.
Greg must be steaming.
You hit the nail on the head! (nm)JSchneb
Jul 19, 2002 6:04 AM
re: Greg is facing some interesting "issues."Pygme
Jul 16, 2002 2:21 PM
Lemond pisses me off so much, I wont even eat a Taco Bell anymore.

(I wonder how many people are scrathing their heads over that one.?
I remember that - it wasn't that long ago!Old_school_nik
Jul 19, 2002 11:35 AM
What you should have said is " he would ahve won more tours had it not been for his fondness for ice cream during the Tour - man the french hated that!