In news that has rocked the cycling industry to its core, Donald John Trump – a 76-year-old Florida resident and bike race founder – has today been indicted on state charges by a Manhattan grand jury. The charges, which are currently under seal, are related to hush money payments to an adult film star that the cycling race promoter allegedly had an affair with. Trump is expected to surrender himself early next week, an event that risks tarnishing his legacy as a cycling identity.
Trump is perhaps best known as the creator of the Tour de Trump – a major US cycling race run in 1989 and 1990, which later rebranded to the Tour DuPont. When launching the race, Trump estimated that “with a little maturity, with a little time, with a little effort and with NBC’s help, we’ll make this [Tour de Trump] the equivalent of the Tour de France” – a reality that never took shape, due to a lack of maturity, time, and effort.
In its first year, the Tour de Trump comprised 10 stages, running along the eastern seaboard of the United States. It attracted a star lineup of local and international cyclists, including 1986 Tour de France winner Greg Lemond – still the United States’ sole Tour champion – who would go on to win his second yellow jersey that same year. The inaugural Tour de Trump was won by Dag-Otto Lauritzen, who is now a Norwegian TV pundit that follows the Tour de France in a car with his enormous face on it.
Trump’s initial foray into cycling was not entirely without controversy. The race was waylaid by anti-capitalist protesters on the first stage, and one of the competing teams was sponsored by leading Dutch brothel, Sauna Diana. In an uncharacteristic show of legal bluster from Trump, his team also sent a cease and desist letter to the organisers of a Colorado event called the Tour de Rump, protesting the similarity in naming, despite the Tour de Rump having existed first.
After boasting about how the event had “been almost received beautifully,” Trump departed from the race after its second edition due to financial difficulties. In those post-Tour de Trump years, golf became his new cycling; Trump invested in a number of golf courses, among other business ventures, including forays into reality television.
Over the years, Trump has seemingly become increasingly fearful of the sport he was once synonymous with. In 2015, after US secretary of state John Kerry broke his leg in a cycling accident (not a race) – Trump said “I promise I will never be in a bicycle race. That I can tell you.” In 2018, Trump returned to the incident, saying that “I learned from [Kerry’s crash] you never go into a bicycle race. You just don’t do that.” Meanwhile, after US President Joe Biden had a minor bicycle crash in 2022, Trump again committed to an anti-cycling life, saying “I make this pledge to you today – I will never, ever ride a bicycle.”
As a result, the depth of Trump’s familiarity with the sport – and indeed, its primary apparatus – has been questioned, with one Quora thread pondering “Does Donald Trump know how to ride a bicycle?”
In promotion for the Tour de Trump, its title sponsor admitted that the last time he had ridden a bike was “many, many years ago”, estimating he was seven or eight years old at the time.
“The whole look of bikes are much different today,” he continued. “I looked at some of the racing bikes today, and I said, you know, is this a bike? It looked more like a rocket ship, I suspect, than a bike.”
Business interests aside, since the final edition of the bike race bearing his name, Trump has largely kept a low profile and refrained from public comments. A short-lived change of scenery to Washington saw him achieve limited international renown as president of the United States (2017-21), before retiring gracefully to a modest Florida home with his doting family. Unimpeachable legacy of the Tour de Trump aside, he is the only cycling race promoter to have faced impeachment twice.