Featured , Pursuits

Greg LeMond wins the Tour de France in a Cartier watch


Greg LeMond wins the 1990 Tour de France in a Cartier watch

When I first saw this image of Greg LeMond in the Tour de France wearing a Cartier dress watch, I was captivated. When I heard the story behind, it I was amazed.

Now, I’m a cyclist – I love taking my road bike out. My major focus is on distance and personal bests though, rather than racing or competing (at least at this stage). I also have a huge appreciation for the craftsmanship of Cartier watches, with a hope to own one myself one day.

Thats why I found this image and the story behind it so fascinating.

This is a story about never giving up, and never compromising.

Who is Greg LeMond?

Greg LeMond is a former professional cyclist, often considered to be the best American cyclist of all time. He started his cycling career in 1981, going on to win several big races, championships, and most notably three Tour de France victories (1986, 1989, 1990). His 1986 Tour de France win made him the first non-European cyclist to take the title and coveted gold jersey.

So What’s the Story?

After his 1986 win, Greg LeMond had to take an unexpected hiatus from the sport. We was due to compete again in 1987, but fractured his wrist in a fall during another race.

While he was recuperating from this during the same year, he was turkey hunting in northern California with his father and brother-in-law. Tragedy struck when he was hit accidentally by a shotgun blast through a bush, peppering him with pellets. LeMond was rushed to hospital and had the majority of the pellets removed, but the doctor said he was within 20 minutes of bleeding to death.

With 35 pellets still lodged in his body (including his liver and heart), LeMond attempted to return to racing in 1988, without success. His return to the elite level wouldn’t come until 1989.

1989 Tour de France & Return to Victory

Greg struggled at the start of the 1989 season as he was still regaining his health, and even told his wife Kathy that he intended to retire from professional cycling after the Tour de France in 1989. In fact, he wasn’t even up for general consideration in the race, and his own personal goal was to finish in the top 20.

Through the season however, Greg’s performance began to improve. He won the 259KM World Championships Road race in August of that year.

Later, in the 3500KM Tour de France, Greg would push his absolute hardest – even considering giving up at times – and crush the competition in the final sprint. He would beat rival Laurent Fignon by a margin of just 8 seconds – the closest winning margin ever.

Greg LeMond would become only the fifth person to ever win the World Championships and Tour de France in the same year.

So what did he do after this monumental win?

greg lemond tour de france win cartier

Cartier Santos Watch and Winning the 1990 Tour de France

This is where some interesting speculation comes into play. After his miraculous win on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, did Greg LeMond stroll over to the downtown Paris Cartier atelier and select a victory timepiece? Was the Cartier Santos a new promise to himself that he would never compromise, and never give up?

This is what really gets me going.

In 1990, Greg LeMond would return to the Tour de France by storm, this time wearing a two-toned Cartier Santos watch. Now, as a professional athlete in a sport dominated by aerodynamics and carrying weight, why would you wear a $6000USD dress timepiece?

Because of luck, that’s why.

LeMond would go on to win his third Tour de France, riding into Paris a champion yet again. His 1990 victory would make him just one of 5 cyclists to win 3 or more Tours – an exclusive  club that includes only 7 riders now in 2021.

Greg LeMond wins the 1990 Tour de France in a Cartier watch

Is there a challenge in your life you’re fighting to overcome? Sometimes it can be hard to push yourself and keep getting back up after you fall. Maybe this story is so inspiring because LeMond did just that, with stunning success.

I’m still saving up for my own special watch, but maybe one day I’ll get it to commemorate a personal win of my own. And maybe, just maybe, it will push me on to that next big win.

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