Guy Andrews is the former Editorial Director of Rouleur and has been working in the cycling media for twenty years. He now is the co-publisher of the Bluetrain books project. He has edited Cycling Today magazine and worked as technical editor on Mountain Biker International magazine. He also contributed to some top UK titles including MBUK, MBR, Total Bike, The Bike Mag,. He also edited roadcyclinguk.com for three years and wrote several books about cycling. His latest work is Greg LeMond Yellow Jersey Racer that was officially launched on October 19 at Rapha in Chicago. We took the opportunity to ask Guy a few questions about this book.
GLF: Why write a book about Greg LeMond now ?
Guy Andrews: Thirty years since he first won the Tour seemed like as good a reason as any! And the fact that many of the stories are being re-visited. Also, 1986 was my first Tour de France and I went to watch. I wasn’t much of a Greg LeMond fan at the time, I was much more interested in the underdogs and so the 'big stars' never really did it for me. That said, over the years we learnt that Greg was actually much more of an underdog than anyone, he was definitely an outsider and a maverick. I’ve always liked that attitude, too many people follow the herd and Greg never does, sure that has won him some enemies, but it also makes him a very interesting person. Added to the fact that he did race a bike rather well and wasn’t just the Tour rider he was painted up to be. That’s why I wanted to do it. We called it Yellow Jersey Racer as a bit of a joke really, because that was only half the story...
GLF: In your opinion, what makes Greg different ? How does he stand out from his peers ?
Guy Andrews: From a racing perspective, he is arguably one of the most talented athletes the sport has ever seen. Greg is a very unique character and I hope that comes across in the book. He’s a challenge for all sorts of reasons, but he’s also a very kind and warm–hearted man. He and Kathy welcomed me into their home and their help and hospitality was beyond generous. Having said all that I wouldn’t want to race against him, he was a ruthless and fearless rider.
GLF: What was the most difficult in producing this book ?
Guy Andrews: The writing and picture editing all takes time, but it’s not difficult - it was a great book and project to do, we found so many unique photographs and bits of memorabilia, we could fill several volumes. So I suppose the hardest part was knowing when to stop searching. We produced the book through three co-edition partners and that was difficult and challenging, but our publishing partners in the USA and UK (Velopress - USA, Bloomsbury - UK and Rapha - worldwide) have been wonderful and they really love the book, so let’s hope it goes well! It’s our first venture with our imprint Bluetrain and as such is an exciting start for a small publishing house like ours.
GLF: Are there things you didn't know about you learned when you wrote the book ?
Guy Andrews: Of course, because writing a book is all about finding out. I spent time with Greg and that was a joy for a writer because he talks - A lot. He remembers very interesting details but also has enormous enthusiasm for his old team mates, managers and even rivals. The captions for the pictures and stories all come from many hours of tape I have of him taking about his racing career. Of course I could (and probably should) have gone back for more once I started to piece the book together, but in all fairness it would never have gotten it finished! Much of the racing input came from the riders I interviewed about him, they all had much to say and that was often eye-opening and interesting – their thoughts and memories helped shaped the book. All his rivals and team mates all have very good things to say about Greg, he is very well respected and liked.
GLF: Do you think this book could have been released when Lance Armstrong was at his peak ?
Guy Andrews: This book is only about Greg’s racing career so I don’t see why not, perhaps the American market would have been a little trickier, but we’ve moved on far enough to know that period was a mess in so many ways for all involved. Incidentally Lance Armstrong barely gets a mention in the book, certainly not by Greg and certainly not by me. I get the impression that Greg’s finished talking about it – Maybe the fact that he was right all along and that’s enough for him.
GLF: In short, what's Greg legacy to modern cycling ?
Guy Andrews: I wrote about this in the book and I think his legacy was profound. Technology, contracts, nutrition, training, skills - Greg changed loads of things.
Cyclists get this reputation, like many professional sportspeople, as being a bit ruthless and singleminded. In the 80s there was a lot of contracts for all sorts of different things and many more deals done. It was the end of an era in may ways, as much of this type of ‘on the bike' business was swept away with bigger sponsorship deals for the teams. There’s no doubt that Greg’s legacy was better money for all riders, better conditions on the teams and perhaps more respect from the managers and team leaders for the ‘little guys’. Sadly I think his legacy of fairness and standing up for the little guy didn’t stay in cycling for long though, these days it seems to be even more ‘every man for himself’.
In many ways that’s a great idea for another book!
GLF: How did you choose the
people who ended up testifying for the book ?
Almost everyone gives his opinion on it.
What’s your take on the 1985/86
Tour de France ? Who was the strongest ? Who should have won if LeMond
Hinault had not been in the same team ?
How did you choose the pictures you ended
up using ? Was it a hard choice ?
What made you choose to focus on Greg’s
career rather than a full biography
As for Greg's life away from cycling. Well, I didn’t want to probe into his family life or his life after and before cycling, that really wasn’t the point of the book. Maybe that’s maybe a book for another day? But I also don’t think that story is over just yet!