In 1986, LeMond became the first non-European professional cyclist to win the Tour de France, and he remains the only winner from the United States.
Cadel Evans is another non-European to win the Tour de France.
LeMond was accidentally shot with multiple pellets while hunting in 1987 and missed the next two Tours.
LeMond had planned to defend his title in the 1987 Tour de France with La Vie Claire, but was unable to participate.
Early that year, he was riding in the Tirreno–Adriatico, an early spring tune-up race, when he fell, suffering a fracture to his left wrist.
He returned to the United States to recover from the injury.
The week before returning to Europe, he went turkey hunting on a ranch co owned by his father in Lincoln, California – in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada.
LeMond was with Rodney Barber and Patrick Blades, his uncle and brother-in-law. The trio had become separated when Blades, who heard movement behind him, turned and fired through a bush.
The movement had come from LeMond, who was hit in his back and right side with a devastating blast of approximately 60 No. 2-sized pellets.
LeMond’s injuries were life-threatening, but fortunately, a police helicopter was already airborne near the scene and transported LeMond on a 15-minute life-flight to the Medical Center at University of California-Davis.
LeMond was taken for emergency surgery.
He had suffered a pneumothorax to his right lung and extensive bleeding, having lost some 65 percent of his blood volume.
A physician informed LeMond later that he had been within 20 minutes of bleeding to death.
The operation saved his life, but four months later he developed a small bowel obstruction due to adhesions that had formed following the shooting.
He underwent another surgery to relieve the obstruction and take down the adhesions.
Concerned that his team would drop him if they knew the shooting accident required a second surgery, LeMond asked the surgeons to remove his appendix at the same time.
He returned to the 1989 Tour, completing an improbable comeback by winning in dramatic fashion on the race’s final stage.
He successfully defended his title the following year, claiming his third and final Tour victory in 1990, which made LeMond one of only seven riders who have won three or more Tours.
He retired from competition in December 1994.
He was inducted into the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame in 1996.
LeMond is a vocal opponent of performance-enhancing drug use, and at times his commercial ventures have suffered for his anti-doping stance—as in 2001, when he first accused Lance Armstrong of doping and sparked a conflict that led eventually to the dissolution of his Lemond Bikes brand in 2008, which was licensed by Armstrong’s primary sponsor Trek Bicycles.
As the lone American winner of cycling’s most prestigious race, LeMond has not enjoyed the public stature that might be expected of such a figure, but he continues to campaign publicly against doping and ineffective leadership by the UCI, the International Federation for Cycling.
In December 2012, LeMond even articulated a willingness to replace the UCI president on an interim basis if called to do so.