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  • Tour de Trump: When Donald Trump ran a bike race

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    From issue 66, Rouleur looks back at the fanfare-filled but ultimately ill-fated Tour de Trump

    Photographs: John Pierce/Photosport International

    1989 saw the launch of a bike race that one day, its sponsor hoped, would rival the Tour de France.

     

    In the following extract from Rouleur issue 66, Paul Maunder looks back at the inaugural Tour de Trump.

    1989_TrumpTour_Peloton_Ariel_PhSpt

    “Greg LeMond, who would go on to win his memorable second Tour de France two months later, Giro d’Italia winner Andy Hampsten, Eric Vanderaerden, Dag-Otto Lauritzen and Gert-Jan Theunisse were among those who made the trip.

     

    “Whatever the noise around its sponsor, the race looked attractive to European teams. The prize money was substantial, flights to the East Coast were relatively quick, and a hilly ten-day race between the Giro and the Tour fitted well into the riders’ schedules.”

    1989_TrumpTour_Donald_Trump_PhSpt

    “The race sponsor who’d brought the cream of European cycling to New York State was no less famous, divisive and controversial than he is now. Soon he may become the most powerful man in the world. More powerful even than Christian Prudhomme.

     

    “That’s right: Donald Trump.

     

    “What was Donald Trump doing sponsoring a bike race? Probably not even Donald himself could answer that question.”

     

    1989_Trump_Tour_Lauritzen_Interview_1st_PhSpt

    “The final stage of the inaugural Tour de Trump was a 24-mile time-trial through Atlantic City, finishing in front of Trump’s hotel and casino.

     

    “The Norwegian Dag Otto Lauritzen successfully defended his pink leader’s jersey to take a surprise overall win, helped considerably by Eric Vanderaerden, who was close enough to threaten Lauritzen’s lead, taking a wrong turn out on the course.”

    1989_Donald_Trump_Start_Pistols_TRUMP_TOUR_PhSpt

    “After the 1990 race Trump withdrew his sponsorship. The race organisers already had strong links to the DuPont family, and in 1991 the Tour de Trump became the Tour DuPont.

     

    “We could fill dozens of pages examining the intricacies of Trump’s business empire, never mind his politics, but others far better qualified have already done so (the New York Times is a good starting place).

     

    “What is interesting for cycling is the legacy of his event, and what it says about the cult of personality within our sport.”

     

    For the full feature read Rouleur issue 66, available here.