miércoles, 19 de diciembre de 2012

Greg Lemond. One of the greatest. Part II.

1983 was an important year for cycling, raising stars , new countries, such as Colombia and USA, the presence of Lemond, Robert Millar, the Irish duo ( Roche and Kelly) and some promising riders from France and Spain.

But nothing seemed to worry our character. Lemond won the Mediterranean Tour in the beginning of the season and helped Hinault winning the " Vuelta", but due to a bronchitis he had to quit the race before the last stages
Foto www.greglemondfan.com
Guimard had told Lemond that he was not going to take part in the Tour because of his youth. The French manager was using the same planning as with Hinault in 1977. In spite of that Lemond was a little annoyed because another young rider, Laurent Fignon, was going to be in the French roads that July. However the American was going to repeat Hinault´s success in 1977, winning the Dauphine, and three stages .

Foto www.greglemondfan.com

But that was not the only story. Lemond was the leader when the race faced the Ventoux, but the French rider Pascal Simon attacked him hard during the climb dropping the American

Foto www.greglemondfan.com

Foto www.greglemondfan.com

Foto www.greglemondfan.com

.....and taking the leader jersey......

Simon won the race, but some days later he was found positive in a test control and the victory passed to Lemond. Simon was fined and  banned a month, a month whenever he wanted. He chose the following month of the Tour.

So a prestigious victory, but not in the proper way, for Lemond, who later would do a good race again in Switzerland, being 4th less than 2 minutes ahead of the winner Kelly.............not their last duel.

Later in the Tour, a great Simon survived in the Pyrenees stage to Luchon taking the yellow jersey by more than 4 minutes to the second, Fignon, unfortunately for him,a fall forced him to quit some stages later in the day of Alpe D´Huez................Fignon would take the yellow till Paris. The Parisien suffered in the way to Morzine but showed he was a champion.

Foto Graham Watson

And that was the first part ( and longer) of the season for Lemond. It was time to prepare the Worlchampionsip in Altenrhein, Switzerland en Suiza. Lemond had got the silver medal the previous year and Knew that the rainbow was possible. The route was tougher, 270 kilometers,with eighteen 15 kilometers lap, and more than 4000 meters of climb. Lemond was one of the favourites, what about his rivals?........Kelly, the Italian team, with Saronni and Argentin, and some young riders such as Fignon, the former winner of the Tour, but nobody knew how the French rider was going to be there.

The day came, 4th of September. It was curious that a cold rider like Lemond was nervous. Nevertheless, once the race started he felt confident, he had a year of expirience and that point could help him.

He didn´t get so involved in the first part of the race, letting other teams to take the initiative. He was saving energy for the last laps................for his moment..........

............and that moment came with three laps to go, with ana attack of the young Scottish Robert Millar ( who had done a great Worlds in Sallanches 1980). A breakaway was formed by Rupérez, Argentin and Lemond that dropped Millar. Lemond knew that was the move, and acceleratedd in the climb with two laps to go dropping the Italy Champion Argentin. Only two riders, only one lap for the glory. The advantage to the chasing group was a minute. The Belgian team was leading the chase..........it was late.......that duo was going to ride for the rainbow jersey. .

However Rupérez was suffering and Lemond noticed it, attacking him in the last climb and flying for the title
Foto www.greglemondfan.com

He was now alone, enjoying the moment, he was going to win a Worlds, as he had done as a junior 4 years ago...........

Foto www.greglemondfan.com
He got crazy once he got to the finish line, the title was his, the first American title.

Foto www.greglemondfan.com

Foto www.greglemondfan.com

Ruperez couldn´t keep the gap and was caught by the group. Adrie Van der Poel wonthe esprint and the young promise, Stephen Roche third.

Foto http://bestoflemond.blogspot.com.es/

Lemond was the youngest World Champion since Jean Pierre Monsere in Leicester 1970 ( he died the 15th of March of the following year, he was ran over by a car..............so was his son years later..............a total tragedy).

To close the season, Lemond rode the fifth monument of cycling, Lombardía, and nearly won, Kelly outsprinted the American winning by a short margin. A disappointing lose

Photo www.greglemondfan.com

Photo www.greglemondfan.com
But Lemond was the first in the Super Prestige Pernod, that awarded the best rider of the season. An incredible year for the American.

It was clear that he was one of the best riders at the moment, and now his main goal was going to be the Tour.........but that is a different story that will be told in our next chapter of " Greg Lemond, one of the greatest......."

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