19th July 1989, Alpe-d’Huez

 

Picture taken and offered by Steve Taylor, student and member of the Alliance.

 

L to R: Steven Rooks (NLD), Greg Lemond (USA) – in the Yellow Jersey, Marino Lejaratta (ESP) obscured by Lemond’s left shoulder, Raul Alcaca (MEX), Pedro Delgado (ESP) and Laurent Fignon (FR). 

 

 

The 1989 Tour de France was the 76th edition of the race, one of cycling’s Grand Tours. The race consisted of 21 stages and a prologue, over 3,285km. It started on 1 July in Luxembourg before taking an anti-clockwise route through France to finish in Paris on 23 July.

It’s one of the most known edition. The race was won by Greg Lemond with only 8 seconds of advance on the competitor. It was the second overall victory for the American. In second place was previous two-time Tour winner Laurent Fignon, ahead of Pedro Delgado, the defending champion.

Delgado started the race as the favorite but lost almost three minutes on his principal rivals when he missed his start time in the prologue individual time trial. The race turned out to be a two-man battle between Lemond and Fignon, with the pair trading off the race leader’s yellow jersey several times. Fignon managed to match LeMond in the prologue, but in the other three individual time trials he lost time to LeMond, who took advantage of aerodynamic elbow-rest handlebars formerly used in triathlon events. Delgado launched several attacks in the mountain stages to eventually finish third, while LeMond rode defensively to preserve his chances. Fignon rode well in the mountains, including a strong performance at Alpe-d’Huez, which gave him the race lead of stage 17.

In the closest Tour in history, LeMond was trailing Fignon by fifty seconds at the start of the final stage, an individual time trial into Paris. LeMond was not expected to be able to make up this deficit, but he completed the 24,5km (15.2 mi) stage at an average speed of 54.545km/H, the fastest individual time trial ever ridden in the tour de France up to that point, and won the stage. Fignon’s time was fifty-eight seconds slower than LeMond’s, costing him the victory and giving LeMond his seconds slower than LeMond’s, costing him the victory and giving LeMond his second Tour title by a margin of only eight seconds. From stage 5 onward, LeMond and Fignon were the only two men to lead the race. The two riders were never separated by more than fifty-three seconds throughout the event. Owing to its competitive nature, the 1989 Tour is often ranked among the best in the race’s history.

 

 

Vocabulary:

Classement Général : General Classification (Overall)

L’étape : Stage

Départ Fictif : Neutralised Zone, usually 3-10 kms where the riders are led out of the town by the police commissioner, usually to a wider road on the outskirts where the racing can begin safely.

Départ officiel : Start

L’arrivée : Finish line

Le ravitaillement : Feed zone where riders are handed food, mid-stage usually.

La musette : a small cotton bag in which food is handed over to the riders in the Zone de ravitaillement. This is then thrown away by the riders and becomes a much sought after souvenir for the spectators.

Un Bidon : A plastic water bottle carried on the bike.

Le dossard : the rider’s number

Une échappée : a breakway

Une crevaison : puncture

Une chute : a crash

Un échelon : when riders spread out across the road to counter a side-wind

Contre la montre : a time trial