SACRAMENTO — Greg LeMond, who last summer became the first American to win the Tour de France cycling race, was accidentally shot in the back by his brother-in-law Monday while on a hunting expedition and is expected to be hospitalized one to two weeks.
Officials said the 25-year-old cyclist, the first American to win the prestigious French race in its 83 years, underwent nearly two hours of surgery Monday afternoon at the University Medical Center at the University of California Davis School of Medicine.
Dr. Sandy Beal, a trauma surgeon at the hospital, said LeMond is in stable condition. She said he will be in the hospital one to two weeks and need two months to "get back to normal."
"Because he's young and in very good condition, he'll recover," she said. "He'll probably lose about two months of training. He should be able to go back and train as vigorously as he had prior to the accident."
The accident happened about 8:50 a.m. PDT near Lincoln in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the Placer County sheriff's office said. LeMond was transported by helicopter to the hospital by the California Highway Patrol.
LeMond was hunting on a ranch owned by Louis Barber and LeMond's father, Bob, about 28 miles northeast of Sacramento.
The cyclist was hunting with his brother-in-law, Patrick Blades, and uncle, Rodney Barber, the son of the ranch owner. Blades fired a shotgun at a turkey and hit LeMond, who collapsed.
"All I know is Greg and his brother-in-law and his uncle were hunting on some property we own in Lincoln and Pat shot what he thought was a turkey through some bush," LeMond's father said. "Greg had walked around in front of it and just took some buckshot in the back."
The helicopter left McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento and reached LeMond at 9:40 a.m. The flight to the hospital took 15 minutes. Capt. Larry Newman said Patrick Blades became hysterical after the accident and was taken to Roseville Community Hospital for observation.
Beal said LeMond was hit in the lower back and flank and sustained the wounds from a far range. There were about 10-30 pellets in his body.
LeMond's wife, Kathy, was in a labor room at Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento. She reportedly is eight months pregnant.
In the Tour de France, LeMond had a composite time of 110 hours, 35 minutes and 19 seconds for 2,541 miles. He raced for the La Vie Claire health food company of France, and beat his chief rival, and teammate, Bernard Hinault, by 3 minutes and 10 seconds.