Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Greg LeMond - the only American TdF champion

Greg LeMond is a world-class nice guy. Why? Here's an example: 

Back-in-the-day when we worked with another tour operation, one of their features were interviews with English-speaking pro riders at the Tour, Giro, etc.

At the Giro d'Italia in 1989, for some reason the usual riders the boss arranged interviews with were unavailable. Greg LeMond was "racing" and as a former world-champion and Tour de France winner we thought the clients would enjoy meeting him. We inquired through Otto Jacome, his right-hand-man at the Giro. He thought "The Champ" would be interested so we set things up for later in the tour. 

Amazingly, some in our little group were not interested! We drove over to the team hotel with those who were and everyone was delighted with Greg's stories and personality. When it was time to leave, the boss asked about interviews at the upcoming Tour de France. "If I'm in it!" was LeMond's response, who said he was just starting to feel better on his long recovery from the gunshot accident that almost cost him his life.

The boss wanted the interviews and explained what he'd been paying the others, offering the former world-champ and Tour winner double the amount. LeMond balked...asking for 1500, I think it was. The boss blinked and repeated his first offer..$1000.

LeMond smiled and replied, "No, it'll cost you 1500...lire. You can buy me a coffee. I'll do it for free."

He did too. In probably the most important race of his life, he came through with interviews at the 1989 Tour de France. We actually missed the second one due to late arrival (by us, not Greg) but he was willing to reschedule the morning of the final time trial. Imagine that.

Here's a link to an article on what Greg's up to these days.

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