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September 19, 2018

I worked as design director for Greg LeMond for several years. LeMond may no longer be a world-class bike racer, but he is still a world-class raconteur. It was never boring. 

One of my favorite stories was about the formation of the La Vie Claire team in 1984. It was the first cycling super-team, featuring Bernard Hinault and of course the young LeMond serving as super-domestique / rival (but that's anotherstory). Team owner Bernard Tapie was a very successful French businessman, politician and occasional actor, singer, and TV host — know the type? So when he put together the team he wanted it to be the biggest thing that had ever happened in cycling.

Greg LeMond racing in the Tour de France

The team introduction was a lavish affair and the highlight was the jersey unveiling. Tapie had hired a very expensive high-fashion designer to create the kits, and no one had seen them before the unveiling except the designer. When the curtain rose it was simply an all-black jersey. Tapie and Hinault were mortified; this was long before Martha Stewart, Apple and Rapha had made minimalism mainstream. 

Mondrian pattern dress

In a panic, Tapie took a chance on an unknown fashion student, who came up up with the idea of using Mondrain's patterns as a bike jersey. In the pop-fashion inspired 60s, this had been done many times but no one had done anything like this in sportswear or cycling. Long story short: the jersey was an instant classic and is now remembered as perhaps the greatest jersey design of all times. Well, until our Punk jersey burst on the scene — and yes, LeMond has one of those too.

 


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