LeMond discovered Alice Miller's 1979 psychoanalytic classic early in therapy, as he began to face his past. Miller argues that the only cure for mental illness is to come to terms with the "unique history of our childhood." Instead of dealing with his abuse once it stopped, LeMond transferred all of his energy into the bike. "Cycling saved my life. I know it did," he told me at one point, breaking down. "It allowed me to reinvent myself."
When I later read 'The Drama of the Gifted Child,' one passage leaps off the page. "The repression of brutal abuse experienced during childhood drives many people to destroy their lives and the lives of others," Miller writes. "In an unconscious thirst for revenge, they may engage in acts of violence, burning homes and businesses and physically attacking other people, using this destruction to hide the truth from themselves and avoid feeling the despair of the tormented child they once were."
In those two sentences Miller describes LeMond's sense of outrage to a T. No longer ashamed of his abuse, LeMond actually seems to feed on it, as it propels him on his endless quest for justice – consequences be damned.
After the trauma of the Landis case last year, LeMond decided to take care of some unfinished business. He hired a private investigator, who located Ron in Nevada. The LeMonds called the man at his job, only to be informed that he had abruptly moved overseas. "I don't know what I was going to do," LeMond says; the statute of limitations on sexual abuse had long since expired.
The next person to be held accountable by the new LeMond was Tim Blixseth, founder of the Yellowstone Club, an exclusive resort near Bozeman, Montana. LeMond was among the first investors in the club, in 1999, but later believed Blixseth was misusing the money. LeMond sued in 2006, and this past fall the club settled with him and his co-investors for $38 million.
As the case grew heated, LeMond wondered if Blixseth's lawyers were working with Armstrong. "I'm dealing with two sociopaths here, Blixseth and Lance," he tells me. "There's something creepy about having somebody this obsessed with trying to destroy your credibility." (Blixseth declined to comment because the case has been reopened.)
This spring LeMond amped up his feud with Armstrong when he brought suit against Trek. (In a case of bad timing, he served notice of the lawsuit three days after the funeral of Trek founder Richard Burke, John's father.) The case will get ugly. LeMond claims to have tapes of conversations with John Burke that are potentially damaging. Trek shot back with a claim that LeMond offered to take a vow of silence on the doping issue – for $10 million. All indicators point to a knock-down, drag-out fight. "It's been a crazy, sad part to a cycling career I truly felt blessed with," LeMond says.
About LeMond and his tumultuous history, Armstrong says: "I've seen it all, from when I was a 17-year-old watching ABC Sports and watching him win the Tour by eight seconds. If you asked me to sum it up, I'd say it's a tragedy, bro. It's an American tragedy."