The Comeback: Greg LeMond, the True King of American Cycling, and a Legendary Tour de France, refers to Mr. LeMond’s return to the top of the sport in 1989, two years after being shot and nearly killed in a hunting accident...The book also details the collision course of two enormously gifted cyclists, Mr. LeMond and France’s Laurent Fignon —also a former Tour champion making a comeback that year—from their eerily similar childhoods to their ultimate showdown on the final day of the most tightly fought Tour de France.
That blend of chaos, kindness and cruelty typifies the scenes that journalist de Visé brings to life in this sympathetic-verging-on-reverential retelling of LeMond’s trailblazing career (first American to enter the tour, first to win it) ... As a reporter, de Visé skates lightly over the objective facts of that ordeal. As an author in quest of his protagonist’s motivation, though, he subjects it to extreme torque: 'Greg found, in cycling, the ultimate distraction from his own demons, the pain of guilt and sorrow and humiliation that still roiled his brain from the months of [childhood] sexual abuse.' With The Comeback, LeMond appears to have finally dropped his demons.
'Quick quiz: Name an American bicycle racer.
Easy, Lance Armstrong. Name another one.
Uhhhh ….' It’s a shame that the only cyclist most Americans have heard of is a liar, a bully and a cheat, a man who sued those who told the truth about him and tried to ruin their lives ... The real hero, the name everyone should know, is Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France ... Daniel de Visé’s The Comeback is explicitly designed to elevate LeMond into the pantheon. It succeeds because LeMond does have an abundance of heroic qualities: he is a sexual-abuse survivor, a gifted athlete and a technical innovator, a modest man in an ego-driven sport who overcame anti-American prejudice and deceit from competitors and teammates, and a truth-teller who suffered greatly for speaking out against Armstrong.
On a turkey hunt, his brother-in-law accidentally fired his shotgun, sending dozens of pellets throughout Greg’s body. The accident punctured Greg’s lungs and could have killed him. Riddled with 60 holes, he looked like 'a human colander,' his wife said...During an arduous recovery, Greg was fired by his cycling team and lost his financial sponsors. After finding a no-name team to take him, he posted lackluster results in many races before finally hitting his stride. At the 1989 Tour de France, he won by an almost inconceivable eight seconds in the final time trial of the race, beating his former teammate Laurent Fignon. The next year, he won his third and last Tour de France ... De Visé at times fawns too much over his subject, but he also lays bare the undeniable facts of Greg’s amazing talent. That he achieved all he did without the benefit of doping, without the support of an American cycling team, and with a catastrophic injury in mid-career, is remarkable.
Veteran journalist de Visé takes on a big story with that of LeMond, who, in the mid-1970s, came roaring out of a bicycle racing scene that 'resembled Grateful Dead concerts, albeit on a smaller stage.' Nicknamed 'Lemonster,' the determined young man came along at just the time that the U.S. bicycling scene was emerging from its backwater doldrums, a flowering celebrated in the contemporary film Breaking Away. LeMond famously went on to become the first American to win the storied Tour de France competition in 1986 ... 'It’s not the bicycle…it’s the legs': a sprint through a big swatch of bicycling history, focusing on racer Greg LeMond’s triumphant return from disaster.
In this thorough biography, De Visé uses Greg Lemond’s razor-thin victory over Frenchman Laurent Fignon in the 1989 Tour de France as a framing device to tell the life story of the first great American road cyclist of the modern era. De Visé describes LeMond’s childhood in California with a supportive family, which was clouded by years of sexual abuse by a neighbor ... He picked up cycling at age 14 in 1974, and by the time he was 17, the international cycling world began taking notice ... De Visé offers a thrilling read and exciting history for cycling and noncycling fans alike