Video: Triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond speaks in exclusive interview
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Monday, October 22, 2012

Video: Triple Tour de France winner Greg LeMond speaks in exclusive interview

by Shane Stokes at 6:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Doping, Video
 
“This is the most crucial time in cycling’s history”

Greg LeMondConfirmed today as America’s only Tour de France winner after Lance Armstrong was disqualified from his seven Tour successes, Greg LeMond has reacted by focussing on cycling’s future rather than dwelling on the past.

The former pro has long been outspoken about the need for clean racing and was one of the first to raise concerns about Armstrong’s work with the notorious doctor Michele Ferrari.

LeMond recognises that cycling is reeling after one of its biggest names was exposed, and is clear about how important this moment is.

“It is the most critical time in cycling’s history,” LeMond told VeloNation, giving an exclusive video reaction to the UCI’s press conference during a trip to Ireland. “It is not another Festina, it is not just another scandal. It is the time.

“We had the chance [for real change] in 1998 but the sport didn’t seize upon it. We continued to see a sport with so much potential keep eroding. The sport still has so much potential; all that needs is that the trust needs to be brought back for the cycling fans.”

LeMond has had a very tense relationship with Armstrong. He was initially supportive of his younger compatriot, giving him advice and encouragement when he turned pro, but that harmony dissolved when LeMond learned that the Texan was working with Ferrari.

A quote he gave in 2001 led to tension between them, and also with the Trek bicycle company which had bought LeMond’s bike brand a few years earlier. He was told by the latter than he had to be quiet on the issue as it could damage the company’s sales of bikes, but later spoke out again when it became more obvious that Armstrong was doping his way to Tour success.

That led to a hugely expensive law suit, the dropping of his brand by Trek and its collapse. He estimates that speaking out cost him millions. It also led to criticism from Armstrong’s fans, many of whom ironically now recognise that LeMond was telling the truth all along.

He’d be forgiven for taking a degree of pleasure from the otutcome, but he admits that he’s felt strangely detached as it became more and more clear that Armstrong was going to be nailed. “I’ve felt sad at times to see what’s happened, because it shows the problems facing the sport,” he said. “I didn’t feel any great satisfaction.”

Of the sanction handed down to Armstrong, he believes that it gives an important message for the future. “I think it is the appropriate thing to do. I think it gives an example that nobody is beyond reproach, that everybody has to play by the rules,” he said. “I think it is a big step in seeing cycling change the culture and move on to a better and new future.”

LeMond talks about these points in the video below, and also elaborates on what he hopes changes in the sport. That includes a shift in how the UCI is being run and the anti-doping measures that are in place.

The most important point though is that this is a moment that must be seized; if the opportunity for a new direction is not taken, then he believes the sport will be forced to relieve scandals over and over again.

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