From the Mag

VN Archives: Greg LeMond meets The Rolling Stones

In 1989, Greg LeMond, that year's Tour de France winner, met the Rolling Stones before their concert in Minneapolis. Longtime VeloNews writer John Wilcockson was there to document the meeting.

The last half century has produced countless amazing moments in pro cycling, and VeloNews has been there for almost all of them. This year we celebrate our 49th birthday, and with nearly a half century worth of archives, we want to present some of the more memorable VeloNews covers, feature stories, and interviews from our past. Our hope is these curated snippets will help motivate you to pursue your passion for the sport you love. 

When Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones were in Mexico City a few years ago, the legendary British band confirmed their interest in cycling by going to see the Italian cycling legend Francesco Moser break the World Hour Record. So when the Stones’ logistics director Alan Dunn — a vice-president of the Finsbury Park Cycling Club in London — saw that Minneapolis was on the schedule of their Steel Wheels Tour, he made sure that Minnesota resident Greg LeMond was invited to meet them. The Tour de France winner proved to be a popular guest.

With VIP passes in hand, LeMond and his small party entered the underground entrance of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome about two hours before the Rolling Stones came on stage November 30. Black-coated security guards exam­ined the passes and ushered the group into a small VIP area. Dunn then escorted them to the inner sanctum: the Band Lounge.

Some quiet rock music drifted from a juke box in the far corner, and a vintage black-and-white movie flickered in another corner, while members of the band and support musicians played pool and video games. Others were snacking from a high-class buffet or sipping beers. They wandered in and out from the adjoining dressing rooms.

LeMond remembered that he met Jagger once before, in 1980, when he was a 19-year-old on the U.S. Olympic team.

“We’d been taken to see a Cosmos game at the Giants Stadium in New York,” LeMond said. “After we sat down, we realized that Mick Jagger was sitting in front of us. We spoke, and he seemed pretty informed about cycling.”

Now, nine years later, Jagger was focused on the video screen of a motor­ racing game called the Monaco Grand Prix when Dunn introduced him to LeMond. The American sports superstar recalled their earlier meeting; but the rock star didn’t remember.

They then discussed their respective trades, both of them being fitness fanatics.

As Jagger left to change, guitarist Ron Wood strolled over to shake hands and chat with LeMond. Then it was the time of the Stones’ veteran drummer Charlie Watts. Like Jagger, Watts keeps a Con­dor racing bike at his home in the South of France. After talking together for more than 20 minutes, Watts had LeMond sign a copy of “Visons of Cycling” for him.

 

“I always watch the cycling on television when I’m at home,” said Watts. “I think they’re crazy, racing through all those crowds. I saw the Tour de France when they did that time trial at Mont Ventoux.” He then asked LeMond, “Aren’t you scared of crashing, especially when the crowds block the road at the finish of a race?”

LeMond explained that the thickest crowds were on the uphills and that the people always moved to the side when the racers came through. Watts also wanted to know about LeMond’s accident and how he came back to win the Tour.

Others came over to talk, including the security chief James Callaghan, a true cockney, who wanted to know how the “other guy” (Laurent Fignon) felt after Greg beat him in the final stage of the Tour.

LeMond was also introduced to Torje Eike, a Norwegian physiotherapist — formerly with the Dundee United soccer club in Scotland — who has been working with Jagger since June.

“Mick is very serious about his training,” said the blond-haired Eike. “We work out together every day. We run for about an hour, doing sprints and intervals. I make Mick talk all the time because when he’s on stage he’s always singing. Sometimes he uses a LifeCycle trainer, and he’ll take it back with him to his house on the island of Mustique when this tour’s over.”

Eike added that stretching exercises were an important part of Jagger’s warm­up routine before every concert. The trainer then excused himself, as it was time for the warm-up to begin. And, after a few more drinks, it was time for the LeMond party to find the way to their seats upstairs.

The huge arena went dark, and the crowd cheered as the massively amplified beat of “Start Me Up” burst from the speakers. Then, spotlights jerked on, and there was the band, led by Jagger, the 135lb. Jumpin’ Jack Flash, starting yet another, non-stop 150-minute performance.

“I don’t know how they do it,” commented LeMond, “especially at their age. Bike racing is easy compared to this.”