So says Greg LeMond in the Foreword of a great new book, Greg Lemond: Yellow Jersey Racer, by Rouleur magazine's editorial director Guy Andrews (2016, VeloPress). This large, beautifully bound volume is over 300 pages full of stories, memories, and interviews with the American icon's friends and rivals, and page after page of stunning photographs - many of which have never been published before.
The book covers the full arc of LeMond's stellar career, year by year, from his beginnings as an exceptionally talented young American amateur racer and the move to the professional ranks in Europe, to his establishment as one of the sport's greats - becoming not only the first American to win the Tour de France (as well as the first English-speaking champion), but also one of only a handful of three-time winners of cycling's greatest race, and a two-time World Champion.
Andrews's writing is engaging, and the interviews with LeMond's former teammates and competitors provide extra perspective not only on LeMond's career, but also on the changing world of bicycle racing throughout his era. It's important to remember that Greg LeMond was a major player in the changes that occurred during his time - from the growth of interest in the sport in the U.S., to salaries for the racers themselves, and also the embrace of emerging technology for the bikes. One change that LeMond notably did not embrace was the introduction of drugs like EPO to the peloton, which is something that may have helped to drive him out of racing - and yes, that aspect gets mentioned as well.
|It's a large book - beautifully bound - and a pleasure to read.|
Over the course of his career, LeMond rode a lot of bikes - from a classic steel Cinelli in the '70s, through trend-setting aerodynamic time trial bikes in the '80s, to modern full-carbon machines at the end of his career in the '90s. Unlike many racers, he was not content to simply ride what his sponsors gave him, but often insisted on specific equipment, even if if meant getting something specially made and painted in the sponsor's colors or graphics. A sampling of some of his favorite bikes is included in the book as well.
|Greg LeMond in his teens - a long-haired skier looking for a new challenge.|
|LeMond loved the Spring Classics and the cobblestones. Here, he climbs the Kemmelberg at the '82 Ghent-Wevelgem.|
|LeMond and the La Vie Claire team line up for a team time trial in the '85 TdF.|
|At the '86 Tour de France - on his way to becoming the first American champion.|
|With former teammate and major rival Laurent Fignon in the '89 Tour - a race that will be remembered as one of the greatest of all time.|
Greg LeMond: Yellow Jersey Racer retails for $45 and is available now. It's a gorgeous book, with good stories and great photography. I recommend it for any bicycle racing fan - whether for yourself, or for a gift. Cheers!