While six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong makes an estimated $15 million a year in endorsements, the only other US Tour de France champion, Greg LeMond, has to go to court to get his sponsors to pay up.
At the time of his prominence, LeMond's victories were epic. In 1986 he became the first American to win Tour de France bicycle race after a bitter cycling duel with his own teammate, Bernard Hinault. He nearly died in 1987 when shot in a hunting accident, yet struggled back to win in 1989 in the closest finish in Tour history — overcoming a 50-second deficit on the final day to win by 8 seconds. Then he won again in 1990.
These victories created unprecedented interest in bicycle racing in the US, and probably helped Lance Armstrong down his current path.
In 2003, LeMond filed suit against PTI Holdings. The New York company had pledged to put his name on the bicycle accessories it sold at Target and other mass merchandisers for 10 years, but had stopped after about two years into the contract. LeMond says the company explained that Armstrong had emerged “as the dominant American cyclist.”