Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France three times, still has high hopes of forming his own team.
"Greg is seriously thinking about getting his own team together," LeMond's close friend Michael Plant - a former president of the American Cycling Federation - told AFP.
LeMond, who won the world's biggest bike race in 1986, 1989 and 1990, was associated with the Mercury-Viatel team last year but his relationship came to an end due to financial wrangles.
The Mercury -Viatel team had an ambitious programme to move into the major players of the European peloton, signing riders like Tour de France stage winner Leon van Bon, Tour of Flanders champion Peter van Petegem and Giro winner Pavel Tonkov to lead the charge. In spite of many successes they were not selected to ride the Tour de France and with the big goal for 2001 off the schedule the team imploded. Viatel was hit by the dot com explosion and was forced to withdraw its sponsorship. LeMond departed in June, under the threat of legal action from Fuji America/Advanced Sports Inc., who filed breach of contract lawsuits against Greg LeMond Enterprises , John Wordin Sports, Trek and others over Mercury’s switch to LeMond bikes, just one year into a three year contract with Fuji.
"Greg hasn't quite got over his experience last year with Mercury. The cycling world needs a gentleman like Greg. We'll do everything possible to encourage him to achieve that," added Plant.
LeMond retired from professional cycling in 1994 - a year after his compatriot Lance Armstrong claimed the first of his 15 Tour stage wins - and returned as a spokesman and assistant manager of Mercury.
The 41-year-old LeMond, whose arrival in the peloton spelled the beginning of the professionalisation of riders and teams, ended his relationship with Mercury in June 2001.
LeMond will be attending the 20th Diamond Ventures El Tour de Tucson, to be held on Nov. 23 in Tucson, Arizona.
The 2002 event will be dedicated to French road cycling legend Jeannie Longo, who has amassed over 700 career wins, more than any other male or female cyclist in history. Longo has won 13 world championships, a 1996 Olympic gold medal and has set 37 world records including the hour record.
Greg LeMond will attend the Dedication Dinner in honor of Longo and will also be riding on event day as well.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go to Tu Nidito Children & Family Services, which derives about 25% of its total operating budget from this single event. El Tour expects to raise $150,000 for Tu Nidito this year.
For more information or registration for the event, visit www.pbaa.com
Photo courtesy Radsport news.