Words: Jeremy Dunn | Photography: Marco Quezada | Date:
Last Thursday night saw the opening of the Greg LeMond Exhibition at the Rapha Cycle Club NYC. Despite the recent snowstorms, folks gathered at the Meatpacking District venue to see historical jerseys, era-defining bikes and the man himself.
We kicked off the night with a screening of the Rapha Continental film – Nevada with Greg LeMond from two seasons ago. Late in September of 2012, we met up with Greg and his son Scott to enjoy the roads that LeMond Snr. had grown up riding. It was a first screening for some, and a great way to look back at Greg’s pioneering career. Chris DiStefano, Communications Director for Rapha North America, then took to the microphone to guide us through the exhibition and provide some talking points for Mr. LeMond to cover all that he has been up to in the past few years.
To look around the space was an amazing sight. Directly in front of Chris and Greg was an array of his Tour-winning bicycles, including the first ever carbon bike to be ridden at the race. To the right, a yellow jersey which was, according to Mr. LeMond, “one of the most comfortable jerseys I had ever worn, before they started to become more synthetic and unbreathable”.
Which brings us to another of the featured jerseys in the LeMond exhibition, one of the many US national jerseys placed around the room. This one in particular is mostly blue, but with the red, white and stars that the US team wore at the World Championships in 1983. Which, of course, Greg won.
The Team-Z and Tommaso iron-on patches are also something to behold, as are the small cuts covering the entirety of the jersey. “Modified for breathability.” Greg eventually took to modifying all his jerseys and a few other examples are on display, There is a World Champ jersey that that was altered to become the first full-zip jersey in the Tour peloton, as well as the aforementioned US national team jersey. By his own admission, “running a little hotter than most riders” necessitated such inventions.
The jerseys are just the start. There are also a series of vintage Oakley glasses and gloves from nearly every team LeMond raced for; look closely at the shoes behind glass on the coffee counter and see how he modified the undersides to make it possible to tighten the shoes to their furthest possible limit. It was a philosophy LeMond applied to every piece of gear, giving himself every conceivable technical advantage.
Then, of course, there are the bikes. The showpiece, the one bicycle that stands out above the rest (and not just because it hangs in the center of the room) is what we have come to call “the eight-second bicycle.” It is impossible to miss and is a machine that seems to carry with it the weight of a nation. It is from the 1989 Tour, a race LeMond won by the narrowest winning margin in Tour history. Not only did that race go on to be remembered as one of the greatest editions of the Tour, but one that would help push the technological advancements that LeMond spearheaded.
The exhibition offers an incredible insight into the tools of the trade during the 1980s and 90s and the important developments that took place in that era. It will be up through March and, if all goes according to plan, it will make its way across the country to the Rapha Cycle Club SF.
Also check out our To The Sun: Greg LeMond interview.
1991 TDF team Z yellow jersey
1984 Renault Elf World Championship jersey
1990 Team Z jersey
1986 La Vie Claire jersey
1986 TDF Combined jersey
1989 World Championship jersey
1984 TDF Podium White jersey
1993-94 GAN team jersey
1983 Renault Elf jersey
1986 TDF La Vie Claire yellow jersey
1990 Team Z World Championship with first full zipper
1978 National Team jersey
1990 Team Z World Championship jersey
1983 Critérium du Dauphiné yellow jersey
1991 TDF Green jersey
1991 TDF Green jersey
1982 Renault Elf spring jersey- wind block front
1983 World Championship jersey
1991 TDF yellow Team Z skin suit
1984 Renault Elf World Champion skin suit
1990 Team Z World Champion skin suit
1989 TDF TT Bottecchia
1989 Worlds LeMond/TVT carbon tube
1990 TDF LeMond/TVT carbon tube
1989 TDF Bottecchia
1991 TDF LeMond/Calfee