This is a good article. Follow the link for more information.

1989 Tour de France

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

1989 Tour de France
Map of France with the route of the 1989 Tour de France
Route of the 1989 Tour de France
Race details
Dates1–23 July
Stages21 + Prologue
Distance3,285 km (2,041 mi)
Winning time87h 38' 35"
Winner  Greg LeMond (USA) (AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia)
  Second  Laurent Fignon (FRA) (Super U–Raleigh–Fiat)
  Third  Pedro Delgado (ESP) (Reynolds)

Points  Sean Kelly (IRE) (PDM–Concorde)
Mountains  Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED) (PDM–Concorde)
  Youth  Fabrice Philipot (FRA) (Toshiba)
Combination  Steven Rooks (NED) (PDM–Concorde)
Sprints  Sean Kelly (IRE) (PDM–Concorde)
  Combativity  Laurent Fignon (FRA) (Super U–Raleigh–Fiat)
  Team PDM–Concorde
← 1988
1990 →

The 1989 Tour de France was the 76th edition of the Tour de France, a race of 21 stages and a prologue, over 3,285 km (2,041 mi). It started on 1 July 1989 in Luxembourg before taking an anti-clockwise route through France to finish in Paris on 23 July. The race was won by Greg LeMond (AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia). It was the second overall victory for the American, who had spent the previous two seasons recovering from a near-fatal hunting accident. In second place was former two-time Tour winner Laurent Fignon (Super U–Raleigh–Fiat), ahead of Pedro Delgado (Reynolds), the defending champion.

Delgado started the race as favourite, but lost almost three minutes on his principal rivals when he missed his start time in the opening prologue 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. In the time trial stages, Fignon only managed to match LeMond in the prologue. In the other three time trials however; he lost time to LeMond, who took advantage of aerobars 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 L'Alpe d'Huez which gave him the race lead on stage 17.

In the closest Tour in history, LeMond was trailing Fignon by fifty seconds at the start of the final stage, a time trial into Paris. It was not expected that LeMond would be able to make up this deficit on the 24.5 km (15.2 mi) stage. However, he rode the distance at an average speed of 54.545 km/h (33.893 mph), the fastest time trial ever ridden in the Tour de France up to that point, and won the stage. Fignon's time in the stage was fifty-eight seconds slower than LeMond's, costing him the victory and giving LeMond his second Tour title. The final margin of victory was only eight seconds. From stage 5 onwards, LeMond and Fignon were the only two men to lead the race. The two men were never separated by more than 53 seconds throughout the event. Due to its competitive nature, the 1989 Tour is often ranked among the best in the race's history.

The PDM–Concorde team was the winner of the team classification and had four cyclists in the top ten of the general classification. They also won four of the five secondary individual classifications: Sean Kelly won both the points and intermediate sprints classifications, Gert-Jan Theunisse won the mountains classification and Steven Rooks won the combination classification. The young rider classification was won by French Fabrice Philipot from the Toshiba team.


The 1989 Tour had a starting field of twenty-two teams, consisting of nine cyclists each.[1] The Tour organisers chose to automatically invite the eighteen best-ranked teams in the FICP Road World Rankings. The Ariostea team would have been eligible to start through their ranking, but decided against competing. This allowed Greg LeMond's AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia team to enter the race. Four additional wild cards were given out to the teams of Kelme, Café de Colombia, Fagor–MBK, and 7-Eleven. Not invited was the Teka team, which failed to accumulate enough points in the World Rankings after Reimund Dietzen had to leave the 1989 Vuelta a España following a career-ending crash.[2]

The teams entering the race were:[1]

Qualified teams

Invited teams

Pre-race favourites[edit]

Upper body photo of Delgado in a suit standing in front of an advertising board
Defending champion Pedro Delgado (pictured in 2016) was considered the strongest favourite for victory.

Before the 1989 Tour began, Pedro Delgado (Reynolds), the defending champion, was considered the strongest favourite to win the race. He had taken the title the previous year in convincing fashion, with a lead of over seven minutes. Prior to the Tour, Delgado had also won the 1989 Vuelta a España, and was therefore considered to be in good form.[3] However, controversy around a failed doping test during the 1988 Tour put a cloud of suspicion over the reigning champion.[4] Future five-time winner Miguel Induráin was riding in support of Delgado.[5]

Behind Delgado, the next-best chances of overall victory were given to Laurent Fignon (Super U–Raleigh–Fiat). The Frenchman had won the Tour in 1983 and 1984, but his form in subsequent years had been inconsistent. In 1989 however, a victory at Milan–San Remo and more importantly, the three-week Grand Tour in Italy, the Giro d'Italia, had propelled Fignon back into the spotlight. A strong Super U team surrounding him was also named in his favour.[6] Bjarne Riis, aged 25, rode his first Tour de France, supporting his teammate Fignon.[7] Riis would go on to win the 1996 Tour de France, the year after the last of Induráin's wins.[8]

Stephen Roche (Fagor–MBK) had won the Tour in 1987 ahead of Delgado. However, a knee injury had forced him to miss the race in 1988. A strong spring season with victory at the Tour of the Basque Country, second place at Paris–Nice and a top-ten placing at the Giro d'Italia made it seem that Roche was starting to refind his form.[9]

Several other riders were named as being favourites for a high place in the general classification. Charly Mottet (RMO), fourth overall in 1987, had won the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré shortly before the Tour started and was ranked number one in the UCI Road World Rankings. This position had previously been held by Sean Kelly (PDM–Concorde) for five straight years. However, Kelly had never been a strong contender for the general classification, bar an overall victory at the 1988 Vuelta a España. Next to targeting a high place in the overall rankings, Kelly hoped to secure a record-breaking fourth win in the points classification. Kelly's PDM squad also had two talented Dutch riders in their ranks with hopes of a high finish: Steven Rooks, second the year before and Gert-Jan Theunisse. Since PDM had elected not to start both the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a España earlier in the season, the team hoped that their riders, without an additional three-week race in their legs, would be fresher than their rivals.[10] Additional favourites included Erik Breukink (Panasonic–Isostar), Andy Hampsten (7-Eleven), Steve Bauer (Helvetia–La Suisse), Fabio Parra (Kelme) and Robert Millar (Z–Peugeot).[11][a]

According to Sports Illustrated, Greg LeMond's "name was never mentioned among the pre-race favorites".[13] LeMond had finished every Tour he had entered up to this point on the podium, including the first-ever victory for an American rider in 1986. A hunting accident on Easter of 1987 severely interrupted his career. He was accidentally shot by his brother-in-law, with about 60 pellets hitting his body. An emergency surgery saved his life, but LeMond struggled to return to professional cycling, leaving the successful PDM team at the end of 1988 and joining the relatively small ADR team. His team was not considered strong enough to help him during stage races. Furthermore, LeMond had not been paid by his team over the course of 1989 before the Tour started due to financial troubles by ADR. Even the fee for the late entry into the Tour itself was secured only when LeMond himself arranged additional sponsorship. With poor performances at both the inaugural Tour de Trump and the Giro d'Italia, LeMond's chances at the Tour de France looked slim.[14] However, he had placed second in the final time trial at the Giro, taking more than a minute out of eventual winner Fignon. This led to Super U's team manager Cyrille Guimard commenting to Fignon: "LeMond will be dangerous at the Tour."[15]

Route and stages[edit]

The route of the 1989 Tour was unveiled in October of 1988. With a distance of 3,285 km (2,041 mi), it was the shortest edition of the race in more than eighty years.[16] The race started on 1 July with a prologue time trial, followed by 21 stages. The race lasted 23 days, including two rest days. On the second day of the race, two stages were held, a plain road stage followed by a team time trial.[17] There were two transfers. The first was from Wasquehal to Dinard on a rest day in between stages 4 and 5. The second was between L'Isle d'Abeau and Versailles after the finish of the penultimate stage. The second rest day was after the mountain time trial stage 15. The race ended on July 23.[17]

The race started outside France, specifically in Luxembourg before then transiting through the Wallonia region of Belgium. The route then took an anti-clockwise circuit through France, starting in the northwest in Brittany before visiting the Pyrenees prior to the Alps. The race consisted of seven mountain stages, two in the Pyrenees and five in the Alps. In total there were five time trials including the prologue.[17] Defending champion Delgado pointed to stage 17 up the L'Alpe d'Huez, one of the most prominent mountain top finishes of the Tour, as the stage most likely to decide the outcome of the race.[18] Unusually, the last of the time trials was held on the last stage of the race, finishing on the Champs-Élysées. This had been the idea of former race director Jean-François Naquet-Radiguet, who had taken over the position from Jacques Goddet and Félix Lévitan in May of 1987. Naquet-Radiguet was unpopular in France and was replaced by Jean-Marie Leblanc before the 1989 route was announced, yet the final-day time trial remained. It was the first time that the Tour ended with a time trial since 1968, when Jan Janssen overcame a 16-second deficit to Herman Van Springel to win the Tour by 38 seconds, the smallest margin up to 1989.[19]

Stage characteristics and winners[20][21]
Stage Date Course Distance Type Winner
P 1 July Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) 7.8 km (4.8 mi) Individual time trial  Erik Breukink (NED)
1 2 July Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) 135.5 km (84.2 mi) Plain stage  Acácio da Silva (POR)
2 Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) 46 km (29 mi) Team time trial  Super U–Raleigh–Fiat
3 3 July Luxembourg City (Luxembourg) to Spa (Belgium) 241 km (150 mi) Plain stage  Raúl Alcalá (MEX)
4 4 July Liège (Belgium) to Wasquehal 255 km (158 mi) Flat cobblestone stage  Jelle Nijdam (NED)
5 July Dinard Rest day
5 6 July Dinard to Rennes 73 km (45 mi) Individual time trial  Greg LeMond (USA)
6 7 July Rennes to Futuroscope 259 km (161 mi) Plain stage  Joël Pelier (FRA)
7 8 July Poitiers to Bordeaux 258.5 km (160.6 mi) Plain stage  Etienne De Wilde (BEL)
8 9 July Labastide-d'Armagnac to Pau 157 km (98 mi) Plain stage  Martin Earley (IRE)
9 10 July Pau to Cauterets 147 km (91 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Miguel Induráin (ESP)
10 11 July Cauterets to Superbagnères 136 km (85 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Robert Millar (GBR)
11 12 July Luchon to Blagnac 158.5 km (98.5 mi) Plain stage  Mathieu Hermans (NED)
12 13 July Toulouse to Montpellier 242 km (150 mi) Plain stage  Valerio Tebaldi (ITA)
13 14 July Montpellier to Marseille 179 km (111 mi) Plain stage  Vincent Barteau (FRA)
14 15 July Marseille to Gap 240 km (150 mi) Hilly stage  Jelle Nijdam (NED)
15 16 July Gap to Orcières-Merlette 39 km (24 mi) Mountain time trial  Steven Rooks (NED)
17 July Orcières-Merlette Rest day
16 18 July Gap to Briançon 175 km (109 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Pascal Richard (SUI)
17 19 July Briançon to Alpe d'Huez 165 km (103 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED)
18 20 July Le Bourg-d'Oisans to Villard-de-Lans 91.5 km (56.9 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Laurent Fignon (FRA)
19 21 July Villard-de-Lans to Aix-les-Bains 125 km (78 mi) Stage with mountain(s)  Greg LeMond (USA)
20 22 July Aix-les-Bains to L'Isle-d'Abeau 130 km (81 mi) Plain stage  Giovanni Fidanza (ITA)
21 23 July Versailles to Paris (Champs-Élysées) 24.5 km (15.2 mi) Individual time trial  Greg LeMond (USA)
Total 3,285 km (2,041 mi)[22]

Race overview[edit]

Early stages[edit]

LeMond standing on the left of the picture in his racing jersey, being interviewed by a reporter
Greg LeMond after stage one in Luxembourg City

The opening prologue time trial in Luxembourg City was won by Breukink, with Fignon, Kelly and a surprising LeMond in second to fourth place respectively, all six seconds slower.[23] The dominant story of the day however was defending champion Delgado. Having warmed up away from the crowd a few hundred yards from the start ramp, he missed his start time with his team unable to find him. He eventually left 2:40 minutes after his designated start, with what time he missed being added on. He eventually finished last on the stage, 2:54 minutes down on Breukink.[24] Though he had conceded only a third of his winning margin from the previous year's Tour, and was therefore still not to be counted out,[25] riders such as Laurent Fignon felt that "victory in the Tour was already a distant memory for him" at this stage.[26]

Delgado would lose even more time on the second day of the race. On the first stage, Acácio da Silva (Carrera Jeans–Vagabond) won from a breakaway group to become the first Portuguese rider to wear the yellow jersey. Delgado attacked from the peloton (the main field) on the final steep climb before the finish, but his efforts were brought back.[27] In the team time trial in the afternoon, Delgado fell further back, as he struggled to keep up and his Reynolds team finished last on the stage. He was still in last place on the general classification, almost ten minutes behind the yellow jersey. The race lead was retained by da Silva, but the victory went to Fignon's Super U team. Fignon was now in third place, having taken 51 seconds out of LeMond, whose ADR squad finished fifth.[28]

The third stage, finishing at the racing circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, was won by Raúl Alcalá (PDM–Concorde), who got the best of a five-man breakaway group up the climb to the line.[29] Da Silva retained the jersey and would do so the next day as well. The fourth stage, which contained cobbled sections, was won by Jelle Nijdam (Superconfex–Yoko–Opel–Colnago). He rode away from the peloton 1.5 km (0.93 mi) before the finish and held on with three seconds in hand at the line.[30][31]

"When you see a rider do a time trial like that over 73 kilometres, you know they are in good form. Everyone noticed."
Sean Kelly commenting on Greg LeMond's victory on stage five.[32]

In the stage 5 time trial, LeMond surprised again by winning both the time trial and the yellow jersey, taking the lead in the tour by five seconds ahead of Fignon. Delgado placed second on the stage, 24 seconds behind with Fignon in third a further 32 seconds behind. LeMond's victory was aided by the use of tribars, formerly seen in triathlon events, which allowed him a more aerodynamic position on the bike. The 7-Eleven team had used them at the Tour de Trump earlier in the year and LeMond adopted their use for the Tour de France to great effect.[33] Fignon and his team director Guimard felt that the tribars were not within the regulations, since they only allowed three support points for the rider on the bike. However, they did not issue a complaint, a fact lamented by Fignon in his 2010 autobiography.[34][b] Delgado rode a strong time trial, supported by favourable weather conditions as he competed in the dry, while later starters had to get through the rain. Sean Kelly meanwhile lost more than five minutes to LeMond, having to throw up after about 20 km (12 mi) of the stage.[36]

Stage 6, the longest of the race, proved unremarkable to the main classifications, but produced a human interest story: French domestique Joël Pelier (BH) had never been watched in his professional career by his mother, who was dedicated to caring for Pelier's severely disabled sibling. Unbeknownst to Pelier, his parents were waiting for him at the finish line, with his brother in a residential home for the week. Pelier, spurred on by his team manager, attacked with 180 km (110 mi) of the windy and wet stage remaining. He held an advantage of up to 25 minutes at one point, but suffered during the later part. Eventually, he won the stage one-and-a-half minutes ahead of the field and had a tear-filled reunion with his parents. It was then the second-longest breakaway in Tour de France history after Albert Bourlon's in 1947, and has since been surpassed by Thierry Marie.[37]

The next two stages were relatively uneventful. Stage 7 was won by Etienne De Wilde (Histor–Sigma) from a group of four riders who were slightly clear of the field.[38] The next day, a four-man breakaway stayed clear of the peloton, with Martin Earley (PDM–Concorde) taking victory. Fignon put in an attack during the stage, but was brought back.[39]


On the next two stages, the Tour visited the Pyrenees, the first time the race entered the high mountains. On stage 9 from Pau to Cauterets, future five-time Tour winner Miguel Induráin attacked on the bottom of the Col d'Aubisque and led the race for the rest of the day. He was followed by two riders of the BH team, Anselmo Fuerte and Javier Murguialday. At one point more than six minutes ahead of the group containing the race favourites, Induráin slowed during the final ascent at Cauterets, but held on to the stage win ahead of Fuerte by 27 seconds. Behind them, Mottet attacked from the peloton, with Delgado following and soon overtaking him. Delgado finished third on the stage and regained 27 seconds on Fignon and LeMond.[40] It was on this stage that Fignon started to complain about LeMond riding too defensively for strategic reasons, accusing him of not putting any work in to counter attacks. He later wrote in his autobiography: "All he did was sit tight and take advantage of the work I put in. To be honest, it was extremely frustrating."[41] LeMond defended his tactics, claiming that as the leader it was not for him to push.[42] Former race winner Stephen Roche hit his already injured knee on his handlebars on the descent of the Col de Marie-Blanque, reaching the finish under extreme pain many minutes behind the other favourites. He was not to start the next stage.[43]

Fignon, wearing a pink jersey, throwing his arms up in celebration as he crosses the line in front of other riders.
Laurent Fignon (pictured here winning stage 20 of the 1989 Giro d'Italia) recaptured the yellow jersey from Greg LeMond on stage 10.

The second Pyrenean stage ended at the ski resort of Superbagnères. Robert Millar and Charly Mottet attacked on the approach to the climb of the Col du Tourmalet. Behind them, Fignon suffered a weak moment on the climb and allegedly held on to a photographer riding on a motorcycle, without the race directors handing out any punishment for the offence.[c] Delgado attacked towards the end of the climb and reached Millar and Mottet after the descent of the Tourmalet.[45] Together, they reached Superbagnères, where Delgado was provoked by an over-enthusiastic spectator and threw a bidon at him. He then attacked but was recaptured by Millar, who took the stage victory.[46] Mottet was third, 19 seconds down. Rooks and Theunisse led the next group, containing Fignon, into the finish. Fignon attacked LeMond within the final kilometre of the stage, taking twelve seconds on the overall classification and with it the yellow jersey. The order in the overall standings after these two mountain stages was Fignon ahead of LeMond by seven seconds, followed by Mottet a further 50 seconds behind. Delgado had moved up to fourth, now within three minutes of Fignon.[45]

Transition stages and Bastille Day bicentenary[edit]

Stage 11 from Luchon to Blagnac had a flat profile. Rudy Dhaenens (PDM–Concorde) attacked from a six-man breakaway just as it was caught by the peloton. With just a couple of hundred metres left and the stage win almost certainly in his hands, Dheanens misjudged his speed going through a corner and crashed, allowing the rest of the field to pass him. Mathieu Hermans won the stage for the Paternina team in a sprint finish. During the course of the stage, pre-race favourite Fabio Parra abandoned, as did his only remaining teammate, José Roncancio, meaning that the Kelme squad was entirely out of the race.[47] Stage 12 was interrupted by an ecologists' protests against a new waste plant, which aided a breakaway by Valerio Tebaldi (Chateau d'Ax) and Giancarlo Perini (Carrera Jeans–Vagabond). A crash in the peloton, impacting about 30 riders, further hindered the field. Tebaldi won the two-man sprint to take the stage. His 21-minute advantage was the highest ever margin between a stage winner and the main field.[48]

Stage 13 was held on the Bastille Day bicentenary, the two-hundredth anniversary of the Storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution and France's main national holiday. The PDM team, on the insistence of their team director, attacked in the feed zone of the stage, thereby violating the unwritten rules of the field. They were brought back, but the acceleration split the peloton into two parts. Fignon attacked from the first group with Charly Mottet. Both stayed out ahead for about an hour before being recaptured. Then, two other riders broke free, Vincent Barteau (Super U–Raleigh–Fiat) and Jean-Claude Colotti (RMO). Barteau left Colotti behind on the hills around the finishing city of Marseille and went on to win the stage. Delgado was handed a ten-second time penalty for illegally accepting food outside the feed zone, while Erik Breukink retired from the race about 30 km (19 mi) from the finish.[49]

The next stage saw a repeat of Jelle Nijdam's exploit from stage 4. He again broke free of the field shortly before the finish line and held off his pursuers to take victory. The day's breakaway, which included Luis Herrera (Café de Colombia), a pre-race favourite who had so far disappointed, was caught within the last 1.5 km (0.93 mi) of the stage.[50]


The following five stages took the riders through the Alps. The first of these, stage 15, was an individual time trial to the ski station at Orcières-Merlette. Induráin set an early standard with a time of 1:11:25 hours, only to be outdone by Rooks, who six minutes later improved his time by 43 seconds. Theunisse was fastest up the second of the two climbs of the course, gathering more points in the King of the Mountains competition to move clear of rival Robert Millar. Of the true contenders for the overall victory, Delgado set the fastest times at all the check points, but slowed on the last climb to eventually finish the stage fourth, 48 seconds down on Rooks. He attributed his time loss to a worsening callus that would influence him for the remainder of the race. Behind Rooks, Marino Lejarreta (Paternina) was second fastest, moving into the top five overall. Greg LeMond meanwhile took back the yellow jersey from Fignon, finishing fifth on the stage, just nine seconds slower than Delgado. His advantage over Fignon at this stage was 40 seconds.[51]

The day after the second rest day, on the stage from Gap to Briançon, the riders faced the climbs of the Col de Vars and the Col d'Izoard. On the first of these climbs, Fignon and Mottet dropped back from the group of favourites, while LeMond stayed close to Delgado. Fignon and Mottet got back to the group on the descent, only for Delgado to attack on the climb of the Izoard. He was joined by LeMond, Theunisse and Mottet, while Fignon fell back once again. LeMond attacked after the descent, but on the slightly rising road towards the finish, Delgado made contact again to finish within the same time. Fignon meanwhile lost 13 seconds on LeMond. The two were now separated by 53 seconds in the general classification, the widest the margin would be the entire Tour. Up ahead, Pascal Richard (Helvetia–La Suisse) won the stage from a breakaway.[52]

Side view of an elevating street going through a mountain village
The final straight of Alpe d'Huez, which hosted the finish of stage 17

Stage 17 led the peloton to the stage finish at Alpe d'Huez, one of the most famous climbs in cycling, and the stage was earmarked as being the decisive part of the race overall.[53] Gert-Jan Theunisse, wearing the polka-dot jersey as leader of the King of the Mountains competition, attacked on the first climb, the Col du Galibier, reaching the summit first. He was joined by two more riders, Franco Vona (Chateau d'Ax) and Laurent Biondi (Fagor–MBK) before the ascent of the Col de la Croix de Fer, but rode away from his breakaway companions before he reached the summit. At Bourg d'Oisans, the village before the climb to Alpe d'Huez starts, he led group of favourites by more than four minutes and held on to win the stage by over a minute.[54] Behind him, the battle for the yellow jersey intensified. Fignon, LeMond and Delgado entered the climb together and Fignon instantly attacked at the first hairpin bend. LeMond stuck to his wheel, but Guimard, knowing LeMond well from their days together at the Renault team, saw that he was struggling. He drew his team car level with Fignon and ordered him to attack again with 4 km (2.5 mi) to go to the finish line. LeMond fell back and only Delgado was able to keep up with Fignon. The two reached the finish together, 1:19 minutes ahead of LeMond. Fignon thus regained the yellow jersey, with an advantage of 26 seconds over LeMond.[55]

The following stage to Villard-de-Lans featured a breakaway, including previous stage winners Millar and Richard. They were brought back once the race reached the Côte de Saint-Nizier climb, with only Luis Herrera left ahead of the peloton. As the field made contact with Herrera, Fignon attacked. LeMond, Delgado and Theunisse followed him but unwillingness to work together allowed Fignon to extend his advantage. He passed the summit of the climb 15 seconds clear of his pursuers and in the valley behind, a group containing Alcalá and Kelly caught up to the three chasers. Fignon started the final 3 km (1.9 mi) climb up to the finish with a margin of 45 seconds. He took the stage win, but his advantage was reduced to 24 seconds by the time LeMond crossed the line, meaning that the difference between the two was now 50 seconds in the overall standings.[56]

Stage 19 was the last one in the Alps and finished in Aix-les-Bains. Already by the second climb of the day, the Col de Porte, the top-four riders on the general classification, Fignon, LeMond, Delgado and Theunisse, joined by seventh-placed Lejarreta, had pulled clear. Behind, Mottet, sitting fifth overall, was struggling and would relinquish his position to Lejarreta by the end of the stage. On the race's last climb, the Col du Granier, LeMond attacked repeatedly, but Fignon followed him every time. Going into the town of Chambéry, sight of the World Championships one month later, Lejarreta misjudged a roundabout and crashed, taking all riders with him but Delgado, who waited for the others to remount and join him. The five riders settled the stage win in a sprint finish, with LeMond taking the honours, although the difference between him and Fignon in the overall standings remained at 50 seconds.[57]


With the final-stage time trial to Paris looming ahead, the field took a steady pace on stage 20 from Aix-les-Baines to L'Isle d'Abeau. Fignon put in a less-than-serious attack, but was quickly brought back. In the run-in to the finish, Phil Anderson (TVM–Ragno) attacked, but was recaptured. Then, about 275 m (301 yd) from the line, Nijdam attempted to go for a third stage win, but was beaten to the line by Giovanni Fidanza (Chateau d'Ax), with Sean Kelly taking third.[58]

Side view of LeMond on his aerodynamic bicycle
Greg LeMond during the final time trial

After stage 19, Fignon had developed saddle sores, which gave him pain and made it impossible to sleep the night before the time trial. He was however still confident that he would not lose his 50-second advantage on LeMond during the 24.5 km (15.2 mi) from Versailles to the Champs-Élysées.[59] In the final-day time trial, LeMond again opted for the aerodynamic handlebars, tear-drop helmet, and a rear disc wheel. Fignon meanwhile used two disc wheels, but ordinary handlebars and was bareheaded, his ponytail moving in the wind. At the half-distance time check, LeMond had taken 21 seconds out of Fignon's lead. When he reached the finish after 26:57 minutes, he had set the fastest-ever time trial in the history of the Tour, at 54.545 km/h (33.893 mph). As LeMond collapsed on the floor from exhaustion, Fignon made his way to the finish. He ended with a time of 27:55 minutes, the fastest time trial he had ever ridden. Nevertheless, he finished third on the stage, 58 seconds down on LeMond, and therefore lost the race by the slight margin of eight seconds. Further down the classification, Millar lost ninth place to Sean Kelly during the final-day time trial.[60] Mathieu Hermans became the first-ever stage winner to finish the Tour de France in last place. He had already been the lanterne rouge in the 1987 Tour.[61] As of 2018, the eight-second deficit of Fignon is still the shortest winning margin in Tour de France history.[62] A November 1989 Bicycling Magazine article, supported by wind-tunnel data, estimated that LeMond may have gained one minute on Fignon through the use of the new aerobars.[63]


"Can you believe he's looked at as a failure, rather than the winner that he actually is?"
Greg LeMond speaking about Laurent Fignon and reactions to his defeat in the 1989 Tour.[64]

LeMond's unexpected Tour victory resulted in significant media attention, with sports writer Nige Tassell describing it in 2017 as "now the biggest sports story of them all".[65] Not only had LeMond overcome a significant time deficit, he had also won the Tour after coming back from a near-fatal hunting accident.[65] Due to its small margin of victory and exciting racing, the 1989 Tour has repeatedly been named as one of the best editions in the race's history. In 2009, journalist Keith Bingham called it "the greatest Tour of them all",[66] while in 2013 described it as "arguably the best [Tour] there’s ever been".[67] American media, traditionally not overly interested in cycling, made his victory headline news and TV broadcasters interrupted their regular programming to break the news.[68] Sports Illustrated, who named LeMond their Sportsperson of the Year, called it a "heroic comeback".[13] A month after the Tour, LeMond also won the Road World Championship race in Chambéry, with Fignon coming in sixth.[69] Due to LeMond's overall victory, ADR received the largest share of the prize money, at £185,700, followed by £129,000 for PDM and £112,700 for Super U.[68]

Still not having been paid by ADR, LeMond left the team and agreed to join Z–Tomasso for 1990. With a three-year contract worth $5.5 million, he became the highest-paid cyclist in the history of the sport. He would go on to win a third Tour the following year, before finishing seventh in 1991 and retiring in 1994.[70] Fignon on the other hand struggled with the disappointment of losing the Tour by such a small margin and the ridicule directed at him because of it. In 2016, his wife revealed that he would not set foot on the Champs-Élysées for the rest of his life, even though he lived in Paris.[64] He continued his career, without much success, never coming close to winning the Tour again.[71] A sixth-place finish in 1991 was followed by 23rd overall the following year.[72] He retired in 1993,[73] having won his last Tour stage in 1992.[74] He passed away in 2010 following a short battle with cancer.[71]

Classification leadership[edit]

There were several classifications in the 1989 Tour de France. The most important was the general classification, calculated by adding each cyclist's finishing times on each stage. The cyclist with the least accumulated time was the race leader, identified by the yellow jersey; the winner of this classification is considered the winner of the Tour.[75] LeMond won the general classification. Fignon spent the most stages as leader with nine ahead of LeMond's eight. In all during the race the leader changed seven times. The only other two riders to lead the general classification in 1989 were Breukink for one day after the prologue and then da Silva for the four days subsequent to Breukink.[20] Delgado wore the yellow jersey on the prologue as the winner of the previous edition.[76]

Additionally, there was a points classification, where cyclists were given points for finishing among the best in a stage finish, or in intermediate sprints. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a green jersey.[75]

There was also a mountains classification. The organisation had categorized some climbs as either hors catégorie, first, second, third, or fourth-category; points for this classification were won by the first cyclists that reached the top of these climbs first, with more points available for the higher-categorized climbs. The cyclist with the most points lead the classification, and was identified with a polkadot jersey.[75]

For the last time, there was a combination classification. This classification was calculated as a combination of the other classifications, its leader wore the combination jersey.[77] Also for the last time, the intermediate sprints classification was calculated. This classification had similar rules as the points classification, but only points were awarded on intermediate sprints. Its leader wore a red jersey.[77]

The sixth individual classification was the young rider classification, which was not marked by a jersey. This was decided the same way as the general classification, but only riders under 25 years were eligible. In 1989, for the first time since 1975, no actual jersey was worn by the leading rider in this classification. The white jersey would be reintroduced in 2000.[78]

For the team classification, the times of the best three cyclists per team on each stage were added; the leading team was the team with the lowest total time. The riders in the team that lead this classification wore yellow caps.[79]

The combativity award was given to Laurent Fignon.[21] Commemorating the bicentennial anniversary of the French Revolution, a cash prize of 17,890 francs was given out to the first rider passing the 1,789th kilometre of the race at Martres-Tolosane, on stage 11 between Luchon and Blagnac.[80] The prize was taken by Jos Haex (Hitachi–VTM).[81]

Classification leadership by stage[20]
Stage Winner General classification
A yellow jersey.
Points classification
A green jersey
Mountains classification
A white jersey with red polka dots.
P Erik Breukink Erik Breukink Erik Breukink no award
1 Acácio da Silva Acácio da Silva Søren Lilholt Roland Le Clerc
2 Super U–Raleigh–Fiat
3 Raúl Alcalá Acácio da Silva Thierry Claveyrolat
4 Jelle Nijdam Søren Lilholt
5 Greg LeMond Greg LeMond
6 Joël Pelier
7 Etienne De Wilde Sean Kelly
8 Martin Earley
9 Miguel Induráin Miguel Induráin
10 Robert Millar Laurent Fignon Gert-Jan Theunisse
11 Mathieu Hermans
12 Valerio Tebaldi
13 Vincent Barteau
14 Jelle Nijdam
15 Steven Rooks Greg LeMond
16 Pascal Richard
17 Gert-Jan Theunisse Laurent Fignon
18 Laurent Fignon
19 Greg LeMond
20 Giovanni Fidanza
21 Greg LeMond Greg LeMond
Final Greg LeMond Sean Kelly Gert-Jan Theunisse

Final standings[edit]

A yellow jersey. Denotes the winner of the general classification A green jersey. Denotes the winner of the points classification
A white jersey with red polka dots. Denotes the winner of the mountains classification A multi-coloured jersey. Denotes the winner of the combination classification
A red jersey. Denotes the winner of the intermediate sprints classification

General classification[edit]

Final general classification (1–10)[20]
Rank Rider Team Time
1  Greg LeMond (USA) AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia 87h 38' 35"
2  Laurent Fignon (FRA) Super U–Raleigh–Fiat + 0' 08"
3  Pedro Delgado (ESP) Reynolds + 3' 34"
4  Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED) PDM–Concorde + 7' 30"
5  Marino Lejarreta (ESP) Paternina + 9' 39"
6  Charly Mottet (FRA) RMO + 10' 06"
7  Steven Rooks (NED) PDM–Concorde + 11' 10"
8  Raúl Alcalá (MEX) PDM–Concorde + 14' 21"
9  Sean Kelly (IRE) PDM–Concorde + 18' 25"
10  Robert Millar (GBR) Z–Peugeot + 18' 46"

Points classification[edit]

Final points classification (1–10)[82]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Sean Kelly (IRE) PDM–Concorde 277
2  Etienne De Wilde (BEL) Histor–Sigma 194
3  Steven Rooks (NED) PDM–Concorde 163
4  Giovanni Fidanza (ITA) Chateau d'Ax 149
5  Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED) PDM–Concorde 133
6  Laurent Fignon (FRA) Super U–Raleigh–Fiat 132
7  Greg LeMond (USA) AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia 130
8  Steve Bauer (CAN) Helvetia–La Suisse 122
9  Phil Anderson (AUS) TVM–Ragno 101
10  Pedro Delgado (ESP) Reynolds 95

Mountains classification[edit]

Final mountains classification (1–10)[83]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED) PDM–Concorde 441
2  Pedro Delgado (ESP) Reynolds 311
3  Steven Rooks (NED) PDM–Concorde 257
4  Robert Millar (GBR) Z–Peugeot 241
5  Laurent Fignon (FRA) Super U–Raleigh–Fiat 219
6  Greg LeMond (USA) AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia 197
7  Marino Lejarreta (ESP) Paternina 164
8  Miguel Induráin (ESP) Reynolds 132
9  Charly Mottet (FRA) RMO 128
10  Luis Herrera (COL) Café de Colombia 116

Combination classification[edit]

Final combination classification (1–6)[84]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Steven Rooks (NED) PDM–Concorde 89
2  Laurent Fignon (FRA) Super U–Raleigh–Fiat 84
3  Sean Kelly (IRE) PDM–Concorde 82
4  Gert-Jan Theunisse (NED) PDM–Concorde 68
5  Greg LeMond (USA) AD Renting–W-Cup–Bottecchia 66
6  Pedro Delgado (ESP) Reynolds 63

Intermediate sprints classification[edit]

Intermediate sprints classification (1–5)[84]
Rank Rider Team Points
1  Sean Kelly (IRE) PDM–Concorde 131
2  Steven Rooks (NED) PDM–Concorde 80
3  Valerio Tebaldi (ITA) Chateau d'Ax 80
4  Eddy Schurer (NED) TVM–Ragno 47
5  Dominique Arnaud (FRA) Reynolds 45

Team classification[edit]

Final team classification (1–5)[85]
Rank Team Time
1 PDM–Concorde 263h 19' 48"
2 Reynolds + 1' 19"
3 Z–Peugeot + 44' 22"
4 Super U–Raleigh–Fiat + 51' 26"
5 RMO + 1h 12' 19"


In total, 87 doping tests were performed during the 1989 Tour de France; all of them were negative.[86] The tests were carried out by the UCI's medical inspector, Gerry Mcdaid.[68]


  1. ^ Millar later in life had a gender transition and is now known as Philippa York.[12] For the purpose of this article, her name and gender from 1989 are used.
  2. ^ To his dismay, Fignon was disqualified later in the season at the Grand Prix Eddy Merckx for using the same kind of equipment.[35]
  3. ^ The photographer in question, Graham Watson, denies that he remembers the episode.[44] Fignon does not mention the incident in his autobiography, but claims that his competitors did not notice his moment of weakness.[41] Contrariwise, both LeMond and Hampsten say that they noticed Fignon was suffering and both agree that he held on to the motorbike for about half a minute.[44]


  1. ^ a b "1989 Tour de France: Startlist". Cycling Weekly. 13 July 2009. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  2. ^ Deblander, Bruno (16 June 1989). "Les vingt-deux équipes du Tour" [The twenty-two teams of the Tour] (in French). Le Soir. Archived from the original on 18 October 2018. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  3. ^ Abt, Samuel (29 June 1989). "Tougher and Richer Tour de France". The New York Times. p. 9. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  4. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 8–9.
  5. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 98–99.
  6. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 10–11.
  7. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 11.
  8. ^ Benson, Daniel (29 June 2016). "The 1996 Tour de France: The fall of Indurain, the rise of Riis". Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  9. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 10.
  10. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 12–14.
  11. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 14–16.
  12. ^ Fotheringham, William (6 July 2017). "Philippa York: 'I've known I was different since I was a five-year-old'". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  13. ^ a b Swift, E.M. (25 December 1989). "Le Grand LeMond". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  14. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 7–8 & 24–29.
  15. ^ Moore 2014, pp. 324–326.
  16. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 19.
  17. ^ a b c "76ème Tour de France 1989" (in French). Mémoire du cyclisme. Archived from the original on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 26 September 2016.
  18. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 148.
  19. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 17–19.
  20. ^ a b c d "All about year 1989". Amaury Sport Organisation. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  21. ^ a b Augendre 2018, p. 80.
  22. ^ Augendre 2018, p. 112.
  23. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 40.
  24. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 31–40.
  25. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 36–37.
  26. ^ Fignon 2010, p. 6.
  27. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 43–45.
  28. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 46–53.
  29. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 60.
  30. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 66.
  31. ^ Bingham, Keith (13 July 2009). "1989 Tour de France stage four: Nijdam's late attack". Cycling Weekly. Archived from the original on 10 October 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  32. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 69.
  33. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 72–80.
  34. ^ Fignon 2010, p. 7.
  35. ^ Fignon 2010, p. 21.
  36. ^ Bingham, Keith (13 July 2009). "1989 Tour de France stage five: LeMond's resurrection". Cycling Weekly. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  37. ^ Moore 2014, pp. 52–59.
  38. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 86.
  39. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 90.
  40. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 98–102.
  41. ^ a b Fignon 2010, p. 8.
  42. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 102.
  43. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 104–106.
  44. ^ a b Tassell 2017, pp. 111–112.
  45. ^ a b Tassell 2017, pp. 111–120.
  46. ^ Moore, Richard (2007). In Search of Robert Millar. London: Harper Sport. p. 233. ISBN 9780007235025.
  47. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 121–125.
  48. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 126–130.
  49. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 132–137.
  50. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 137–140.
  51. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 143–148.
  52. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 150–155.
  53. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 158.
  54. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 162–170.
  55. ^ Moore 2014, pp. 328–329.
  56. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 172–177.
  57. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 179–181.
  58. ^ Tassell 2017, pp. 184–185.
  59. ^ Moore 2014, p. 330.
  60. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 192.
  61. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 195.
  62. ^ Moore 2014, pp. 331–334.
  63. ^ McGannMcGann 2008, p. 191.
  64. ^ a b Tassell 2017, p. 224.
  65. ^ a b Tassell 2017, p. 208.
  66. ^ Bingham, Keith (22 December 2009). "The greatest Tour of them all". Cycling Weekly. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  67. ^ Bacon, Ellis (25 June 2013). "10 memorable moments from the Tour de France". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  68. ^ a b c Bingham, Keith (13 July 2009). "1989 Tour de France: Final results". Cycling Weekly. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  69. ^ Abt, Samuel (28 August 1989). "LeMond Captures World Title". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
  70. ^ Moore 2014, p. 336.
  71. ^ a b "Cyclist Laurent Fignon dies at 50". ESPN. 31 August 2010. Archived from the original on 25 July 2018. Retrieved 25 July 2018.
  72. ^ Westemeyer, Susan (31 August 2010). "Laurent Fignon remembered". Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  73. ^ Wheatcroft 2013, p. 268.
  74. ^ Almond, Elliott (16 July 1992). "Tour de France: Fignon Wins Stage in Mountains; Lino Still Leads". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  75. ^ a b c Wynn, Nigel (3 July 2018). "Tour de France jerseys: Yellow, green, white and polka-dot explained". Cycling Weekly. Archived from the original on 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  76. ^ Tassell 2017, p. 31.
  77. ^ a b Mallon, Bill; Heijmans, Jeroen (9 September 2011). Historical Dictionary of Cycling. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-8108-7369-8.
  78. ^ "The Tour de France starts on July 7 live on ITV4 here's a guide to what the coloured jerseys really mean". ITV. 29 June 2018. Archived from the original on 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  79. ^ Chauner, David; Halstead, Michael (1990). The Tour de France Complete Book of Cycling. Villard. ISBN 0-679-72936-4. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  80. ^ Wheatcroft 2013, p. 266.
  81. ^ Bingham, Keith (13 July 2009). "1989 Tour de France stage 11: Hermans takes sprint". Cycling Weekly. Archived from the original on 26 July 2018. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  82. ^ "76th Tour de France -General Classification". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  83. ^ "76th Tour de France -General Classification". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  84. ^ a b "Tour '89". Leidsch Dagblad. 24 July 1989. p. 14. Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  85. ^ "76th Tour de France – General Classification". Retrieved 19 October 2018.
  86. ^ "Alle dopingcontroles in de Tour negatief" [All doping tests in the Tour negative]. Provenciaalse Zeeuwse Courant (in Dutch). Krantenbank Zeeland. 25 July 1989. p. 13. Retrieved 20 October 2017.


External links[edit]

Media related to 1989 Tour de France at Wikimedia Commons