After what some observers have called the most exciting Tour de France ever, Greg LeMond today completed the 2,542 mile Tour in 110 hours, 35 minutes, and 19 seconds to become the first American to win the race.
Despite repeated attacks throughout the race from his La Vie Claire teammate Bernard Hinault, LeMond bested the French patron and 5-time Tour winner by 3 minutes 10 seconds, overcoming the Badger’s five-minute lead mid-race.
But there was one more minor scare in store for LeMond on today’s final, traditionally ceremonial stage into Paris. The final stage was a marathon 255 km on undulating roads from Cosne-sur-Loire into central Paris. After the champagne and the photos and the general cavorting, there was a crash in the middle of the peloton. At the bottom of the heap was LeMond.
It was a crash caused by inattention, probably induced by extreme fatigue, rather than sabotage. As LeMond picked up himself and his bike, which he inspected and remounted, body and machine were intact.
After a physically and mentally exhausting 4,300 km, 3 weeks, 23 stages, and 110 hours of racing, LeMond, as he began to chase back to the peloton, looked up and was confronted, in the no-man’s-land between him and the pack of riders, by a sight that almost knocked him off his bike again.
Ahead of him, standing on the pedals and slow-pedaling as he waited to pace his American teammate back to the peloton, was Bernard Hinault.
Today’s race report was adapted from Richard Moore’s new book Slaying the Badger, an incomparably detailed and highly revealing tale of cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry and the greatest ever Tour de France.