by Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
The American media have been desperately flipping through their Rolodexes to find expert analysis on the Tour win by Floyd Landis. ESPN's Cold Pizza tracked down the first American Tour winner, Greg Lemond, while he was vacationing with his family. When asked if the number of wins by Americans in the last twenty years is a trend, Lemond replied, "It's pure coincidence. We just had some talented individuals come into racing. But what Floyd did was amazing."
Lemond was also asked why it seems that the Americans that win seem to have to overcome great hurdles, with Lemond's hunting accident, Armstrong's cancer and now Landis' hip, "I think anybody who has had a setback... it shows your character," Lemond said. Lemond is also confident that Landis will be able to come back from his upcoming surgery, citing a colleague who had a hip replacement using a new technique, "He has the physiology to be a Tour de France winner, he did it, and I think he will win many more. I am optimistic he will be able to defend his title next year."
Lemond has certainly not hidden his feelings on Armstrong, and when asked who would win today between Landis, him and Armstrong, Lemond at first chuckled, "I am biased! I can't answer that, [laughs.]" But then Lemond got a little more serious. "Every race is different. The race changed dramatically this year. For me I am a strong anti-doping advocate. I think we are seeing a true Tour de France winner, someone who might have otherwise been cheated out of a win."
When asked if he was saying Lance's wins were tainted, Lemond said, "I am not saying that. It goes back to the historical norms, where people got tired and had bad days. It was common to have a bad day when I was racing. I have been waiting for this period since 1998… The French riders are competitive since 1998. They have a much harder dope testing in their country. Watching a race that shows the human drama. I believe you can do the TdF without drugs, you get tired, and the strongest win."