A History of Racing Eyewear Part IV: Greg LeMond

To celebrate summer, grand tours and the imminent launch of a special new Rapha product, we present portraits of iconic riders epitomising the epoch (and the type of sunglasses) they competed in.

Greg LeMond has a fascinating trajectory into the world of professional bike racing. The first (and arguably only) American to win the Tour de France, he was ‘headhunted’ by Bernard Hinault and Cyrille Guimard for Renault and allegedly became the first million dollar rider when he subsequently signed for La Vie Claire in 1984. La Vie Claire certainly represented the evolution of the sport, signing North American riders to help market the brand and being the first team to use clipless pedals.

Alongside these changes, motorsport continued to influence the cycling eyewear market. German brand Carrera pioneered the use of ‘photochromic’ plastics in lenses and took engineering techniques into the fashion market. But it was fledgling Californian company Oakley, starting out in the world of motor cross and BMX in 1975 that, in the 1980s, dramatically redefined cycle sport eyewear.

Crucially it was LeMond who bought a pair of Eyeshades in ’84 and then almost immediately phoned Oakley’s Jim Jannard to see if he could acquire a few more pairs for a ‘trip to France’. Soon these technical plastic shades were the hottest commodity in the European peloton.

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