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Tour de France Winner Wounded, But Won’t Hurt Career

April 21, 1987

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) _ Bicyclist Greg LeMond, the only American to win the Tour de France, was wounded by shotgun fire in a hunting accident, but doctors say his career is not in danger.

LeMond, 25, was struck Monday morning while hunting turkey with two companions near Lincoln, about 20 miles northeast of Sacramento, said Placer County sheriff’s Capt. Larry Newman.

″He should recover from all injuries ... and it should not affect his abilities as an athlete,″ said Dr. Sandy Beal, of the University of California, Davis, Medical Center. LeMond was in fair condition Monday night.

The cyclist should be able to resume training in a month or two, said Beal, who led a team of three surgeons in a two-hour operation to remove pellets from LeMond’s midsection.

The blast was apparently fired by LeMond’s brother-in-law, Patrick Blades, Newman said. No charges were filed.

″Evidently, Greg was on the other side of some thick berry bushes and there were some turkeys there, and Pat shot what he thought was a turkey, and he hit Greg,″ said the cyclist’s father, Bob LeMond, of Reno.

The elder LeMond said the trio was hunting on land owned by the third member of the party, the cyclist’s uncle, Rodney Barber.

Surgeons said 10 to 30 pellets struck LeMond, who was flown to the medical center by California Highway Patrol helicopter. Neither Beal nor Newman knew the gauge of the shotgun or the pellet size.

Pellets entered LeMond’s right side and back and traveled through to his chest, puncturing two small holes each in his diaphragm, liver and small intestine, and bruising a kidney, Beal said.

LeMond’s other kidney has functioned for years at only 10 percent of normal, said hospital spokeswoman Marci Johnson. She said surgeons believe the injured kidney will swiftly recover.

LeMond was scheduled to race next Sunday in Switzerland, his father said.

LeMond won the 24-day, 2,500-mile Tour de France last July. In 1981 and 1985 he won the the top American cycling event, the 1,065-mile Coors Classic race through California, Nevada and Colorado.

He ranked fourth in The Associated Press Athlete of the Year voting in 1986.

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