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LeMond Documentary

I finally found time to watch Fearless, the docu-puff-piece OLN has been running on the LeMonds as part of its ramp-up to the Tour. Which was a lot more interesting and less horrifying than I expected.


First off, we've spent plenty of time this year reacting to LeMond's seemingly needless and hysterical reaction to the drug allegations flying around. At one point, had you run a poll on who the Podium Cafe community were rooting for to go back in time and win the 1989 Tour, it would've been close. He's been spouting off about drugs too much, in inappropriate ways.

But the documentary actually lent some insight into LeMond's ways...

  • First, he has some issues. I couldn't tell if he suffers from depression, though the narrator seemed to be implying that. Regardless of the source, Greg was never the same after Hinault's backstabbing at the 1986 Tour, as well as the paranoia that engulfed his half of the team once he took the jersey (the Tour director graciously warned him to be careful, watch his bottles, don't take anything from strangers... implying he was in danger of being drugged or poisoned). Not quite Jackie Robinson material, but the trailblazers do pay a price. From then on, he was pretty angry.
  • The trauma on the day of the shooting cannot be overstated. I hadn't known this, but the stress of seeing her husband (at the hospital) still leaking blood like a garden drip hose actually sent 8-months-pregnant Kathy into labor. She then had to be rushed to a different hospital, because the one they took LeMond to was a trauma center populated mostly by inmates from Folsom Prison. All with their 3-year-old son around. Labor was stopped, and LeMond was OK... eventually.
  • LeMond and Fignon: There is no earthly reason to have retroactively wished Fignon won. Yes, he rode aggressively -- wouldn't you if you had the premier team and your rival had no team at all? Then, the day before the fateful ITT, he congratulated LeMond on his comeback to second place. Either he really did assume the race was over, in which case he's incredibly stupid, or he was trying to intimidate LeMond (by inciting him), in which case he's still incredibly stupid.
  • LeMond and Drugs: According to Greg, the era of widespread doping began in 1991, when he finished seventh behind a bunch of guys who he was accustomed to beating, and when LeMond was convinced he was in excellent shape. Suddenly he was having trouble staying with guys he didn't think much of in the past. Very suspicious. While I have a hard time imagining Indurain a doper, and LeMond didn't say such, there is no reason to disbelieve him as to the peloton in general. LeMond felt cheated out of a Tour win by this, which explains his anger about drugs somewhat. Fact is, he was probably also starting to experience the fatigue symptoms caused by the blood disorder he now has, probably due to the lead pellets in him. So if this was the third Tour stolen from him, it's just as much his brother-in-law's fault as the first two.
  • Finally, and I can't believe I'm saying this, but few people have aged as well as Kathy LeMond. I mean, these people are complete strangers, so who really knows, but in the documentary she doesn't at all resemble the shrill, overwrought chronic worrier with the horrible perm that CBS (inadvertently?) portrayed back then. The perm is gone, she hasn't aged even five minutes, and it was kind of nice to see her calm and cheerful after all that unflattering video in the 80s. So no more Kathy LeMond "Greeiiigggg!!!" jokes guys!

Anyway, the only real complaint I have is that the title Fearless is completely off point -- I don't see how fear, or the lack thereof, had anything to do with the story. Endurance might be a better term. They went through a lot and did OK.