LeMOND: The Incredible Comeback of an American Hero by Sam Abt

LeMOND: The Incredible Comeback of an American Hero

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KIRKUS REVIEW

American bicycle racer Greg LeMond twice astounded the sporting world by winning the Tour de France, the pinnacle in a sport that remains largely unknown in the US. Here, Abt (Ed., The Paris Edition: The Autobiography of Waverley Root 1927-1934, 1987) offers a breezy account of this amazing and, at times, controversial young athlete. LeMond became one of only two Americans racing professionally in Europe when he signed with the Renault team in 1980 at the age of 19. His second place in the 1982 World Championship in England marked the first time a non-European had won a medal of any kind in a professional championship. The following year, LeMond captured the world championship in Switzerland. The next few years brought more success, but also bitter controversy with the racing establishment as the young American bridled against the arcane rules of European racing and a team etiquette that dictated a ""leader"" whose victory was to be aided by the other riders. LeMond had the million-dollar contract, but teammate Bernard Hinault, a five-time Tour winner, was hardly ready to ride in the American's wake. When LeMond won the Tour de France in 1986, it was in the midst of a bitter quarrel with Hinault, who graciously ""allowed"" him to win, thus garnering heroic status for himself before the hometown crowd. In April 1987, while hunting wild turkey in northern California, LeMond was accidentally shot by his brother-in-law. Shotgun pellets punctured his lung and were removed from his liver, kidneys, and intestines. His remarkable comeback to win the 1989 Tour de France is the stuff of which legends are made. Against overwhelming odds in the grueling 24-day, 2,025-mile race, LeMond dramatically crossed the finish line on the Champs-ElysÉes with a combined total of just eight seconds less than favorite Laurent Fignon. A difficult book for the novice, as Abt is rather sparing on the background and rules of the sport; bicycle racing enthusiasts, however, will find this an entertaining, if shallow and somewhat thin, profile.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1990
Publisher: Random House