The Rough Ride of Greg LeMond
Long time no update. A lot's been going on, but here's the biggie: My profile of 3-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond appears in the July issue of Men's Journal (where I'm now "Editor at Large," possibly the best job title in all of magazinedom). Anywayyys: I spent a day and a half with Greg and his family last July, during which time we watched Michael Rasmussen's best and last Tour stage win ever (he got yanked from the race that very day), and talked about many deep subjects, from the sorry state of LeMond's beloved sport, to his ongoing feud with Lance Armstrong, to his horrifying history of childhood sexual abuse.
When LeMond's abuse was revealed last year, during the Floyd Landis doping arbitration, I sort of went, "Ah-hahhh...." -- it was like the other shoe dropping. Now we know a little more about what makes him tick. Now we know why he could make himself suffer so much that he could win the Tour, against all odds and even against his own teammates, three times. It all made sense to me: His hunger as a young rider, and his anger as a retired athlete, watching Lance Armstrong achieve the record that LeMond still believes could have been his.
Whether you love LeMond or hate him--not many people fall in between the two extremes--you have to admit that what he suffered as a young boy was just wrong. And the damage continued well into his 40s. He told me that he felt his greatest accomplishment, greater than any of his Tour wins, was simply to have pulled his life back together over the past five years.
Bottom line: It's great to be a champion. But it's not always so easy to be a former champion.
[UPDATE: there's a discussion of the article at RoadBikeReview forums]