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July 26, 2010
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July 26, 2010

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Every SI Story ... Every SI Photo ... Ever SI.COM/VAULT

EXCERPT | July 31, 1989

LeMond Dieu!

Greg LeMond rallied to win his second Tour de France

Wounded in a hunting accident in 1987, the year after he became the first American to win the Tour, the 28-year-old LeMond was not expected to contend for a victory. Franz Lidz reported for SI.

In a revolutionary finish in France's bicentennial year, Greg LeMond of Wayzata, Minn., stormed into Paris on Sunday afternoon and snatched the Tour de France from the French pretender. From the start of the final day's 27-km time trial in Versailles, LeMond had approached the French capital like a lone soldier on a heroic mission. His goal: to make up the 50 seconds that separated him from the Tour's leader, Laurent Fignon of Paris, and then some.

Hunched tightly over his handlebars, his helmeted head lowered into an aerodynamically efficient position, LeMond rode all out, all the way, gaining precious seconds with each kilometer. So totally was he within himself that he had asked his support crew not to give him his splits during this final leg; he didn't want anything to break his concentration. He also didn't want to hear about the progress of the man he was chasing. LeMond would simply push himself to the limit.

No one doubted that LeMond could win the so-called "race of truth" from Versailles to the Tuileries; he has become a master of time trials. But few thought he could make up enough time on Fignon to win the Tour.

"De l'audace, LeMond, de l'audace!" yelled the Parisian rabble, and boldly, boldly, he shot down the same path that Louis XVI took in 1789. Unlike Louis, he kept his head.

LeMond's eight-second winning margin is still the closest in the race's history. SI's Sportsman of the Year in '89, he won his last Tour the next year.

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