In slightly more than two weeks, when the Tour de France arrives in Paris for the 98th edition finale, the occasion will also mark 25 years since Greg LeMond became the first American to win the event.
LeMond, who turned age 50 last month, was also victorious in the Tour de France in 1989 and 1990. And his status at the time as the most well-known American in the sport as well as his innovation and personality attracted many young athletes into the sport.
About 50 Americans have now competed in the Tour de France, the first Jonathan Boyer in 1981. And with Tyler Farrar’s victory in stage 3 this year, 11 Americans have now won Tour de France stages. Here’s a brief synopsis of each rider.
Lance Armstrong, 39. Seven-time Tour de France winner, 25-time individual stage winner . . . Retired unexpectedly earlier this year, with Tour Down Under in Australia in January his last competitive UCI road race . . . Can’t stay out of the limelight with his ongoing investigation and recent spat with Tyler Hamilton in an Aspen, Colo., restaurant. Armstrong is expected to attend the final few days of the Tour de France since he’s part owner of the RadioShack team.
Tyler Farrar, 27. Won stage 3 of this year’s race to end a long streak of second-and-place finishes to Mark Cavendish. With Dave Zabriskie (see below), the twosome are the only Americans win stages of the Tour de France, Tour of Italy and Tour of Spain.
Tyler Hamilton, 40. Won stage 16 in the 2003 Tour de France on a long solo breakaway while heavily bandaged . . . Recently confessed to doping and said Lance Armstrong did the same in a CBS interview. Returned his 2004 Olympic time trial gold medal.
Andy Hampsten, 49. Finished the Tour de France nine times . . . Won the stage finishing at L’Alpe d’Huez in 1992 and became the first and still American to win the Tour of Italy . . . Owns a bicycle company with his brother and has lived in several locales, including Tuscany, Italy, and Boulder, Colo. Runs high-end bicycle tours.
George Hincapie, 38. Now in the midst of his 16th Tour de France and hopeful to complete the race for the 15th time . . . Won the 15th stage of the Tour de France in 2005 . . . Had a career goal of winning Paris-Roubaix where he once finished second, but a title at the “Hell of the North” now seems improbable. Hincapie said earlier this year, he’ll ride through the 2012 season.
Floyd Landis, 35. Stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory and fired from the Phonak team after a test revealed high ratios testosterone/epitestosterone ratio during stage 17, which he won on a long, solo breakaway. . . Won the inaugural Tour of California in 2006 . . . During the 2010 Tour of California held a press conference launching several controversies, including accusations that Lance Armstrong doped.
Greg LeMond, 50. Finished the Tour de France six times, including victories in 1986, 1989 and 1990 and also withdrew twice . . . Has “battled” Lance Armstrong and others, many not in cycling, over business issues from real estate to brand infringement . . .He revealed that he was abused as a boy by a family friend a couple of years ago during the Floyd Landis proceedings.
Levi Leipheimer, 37. Finished third overall in the 2007 Tour de France and claimed his only career stage win in the race in the same year in the final individual time trial. He’s iding in the event this year for the ninth time and has four career top-10 overall finishes.
Jeff Pierce, 52. A member of 7-Eleven, the famed first U.S. team to compete in the Tour de France. He won his share of races, but is often the “forgotten” rider when American stage winners are discussed . . . His only individual win occurred on the race’s final day in 1987 om the trek to the Champs Elysees in Paris . . . Worked for several years for USA Cycling, the sport’s governing body.
Davis Phinney, 51. Another member of the 7-Eleven team, Phinney in 1986 became the first American to win a stage of the Tour de France . . . A sprinting specialist, he also won stages race and had more than 300 career wins, the most of any males U.S. rider . . . At age 40 was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and now has an educational foundation based in Colorado . . . Married to Connie Carpenter, the couple has two children, the oldest, Taylor, is a pro with BMC.
David Zabriskie, 32. Riding in hs sixth Tour de France, Zabriskie is a time trial specialist who has won stages in all of the grand tours, including the opening time trial of the 2005 Tour de France when he beat Lance Armstrong . . . Won the 2009 Tour of Missouri, the only stage race win of his career . . . Known for his wacky sense of humor which includes impersonations and unique YouTube videos.