Friday, June 24, 2011

Happy 50th Greg...

Yes, the most influential American cyclist of the 1900s turns 50 years young this weekend (Sunday). Lemond ushered in a new era in cycling, not only in the United States, but worldwide. From athlete pay, to aerodynamics, to an elevated status of American racers, the changes and adaptations he brought to the sport are tied to its historical progression.

American sporting perceptions aside, or maybe because of them, Lemond, as an American, will forever be linked to some of the most noteworthy sporting accomplishments of all time. As a result his successes, his near-successes, even his failures have resulted in some of the most iconic images in the history of the sport of cycling. A few of my favorites are here.

I began my own racing career during Lemond's reign and, lamentably, never amounted to much by comparison. Though we are separated by only a year - I, the younger (at least I can lay hold to that claim) - I, like the vast pit of American sporting public, was largely unaware of the sport of cycling prior to the ascendancy of Lemond. It was Greg Lemond who ignited a passion in racing which has not dimmed, led me to immerse myself in cycling history, to the names Desgrange, Coppi, Anquetil, Merckx, Hinault, Kelly, and the many others, before and since. So, Happy Birthday Greg. Slainte.

The above video is kind of interesting. It actually shows little of Lemond, though he won the stage and moved into the top spot on general classification. What is interesting are some of the personalities being interviewed (including Lemond): Alexi Grewal, Connie Carpenter Phinney, and Andy Hampsten. It is a fun little trip back in time if you have not seen it.

Perhaps for obvious reasons, one of my favorite quotes from the above book;

"But I like the fact that a lot of people don't think I'm going to come back. It just gives me more incentive to prove them wrong. I do well in pressure situations. People think, he's not going to do well when there's a lot of pressure. But I do better when that type of battle is going on..."

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