Cornered, the Badger Defends His Attack

Did Hinault give LeMond permission to attack?

Bernard Hinault Promises Greg LeMond the Tour de France
“I’m not his father,” replied Hinault.

“I’m not his father,” replied Hinault. “He can do what he likes. What’s important is to keep the jersey in the team.”

Explaining his attack, Hinault adds, “If I had succeeded in reaching Superbagnères, I would have won the Tour, and everyone would have lavished praise on me. If I failed, I knew that Greg was behind me ready to counterattack and that I was tiring his adversaries. It was a sound strategy.”

Hinault’s own teammates, who had agreed before the stage to maintain the status quo and ride defensively, were confused that he would break team strategy. They asked him why he attacked. The Badger’s response?

“Because I felt like it.”

“I like panache,” continued Bernard.

“I said that on this Tour, I attack when I want. My role is to make the race hard, and I succeeded. After two days in the high mountains, 27 riders have either dropped out or been disqualified; our main adversaries have all lost members of their team. I always said that, in this Tour, Greg only needs to worry about himself. I will take care of the other 208 riders.”Bernard Hinault after a crash in the 1985 Tour de France

In the end Hinault paid for his effort, even if he did manage to hold on to the yellow jersey.

“I wasn’t that tired,” Hinault claimed. “I pulled back 1 minute in 5 kilometers at the end.”

“But I was pretty hungry. Having worked so hard and not really thought about refueling, I did have a bit of a bad patch. I wasn’t dying of hunger. I wasn’t completely gone, you know? I refueled, but it was too late. The bad patch was between Luchon and the bottom of Superbagnères. At the bottom I still wasn’t great; then I pulled back a minute.”

We hope you’ve enjoyed this passage from Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore!

During the 2012 Tour de France, VeloPress traveled back through time to replay the 1986 Tour de France one stage at a time. Each morning of the 2012 Tour, VeloPress published a “stage report” with results from the 1986 Tour, which were passages from Richard Moore’s award-winning book Slaying the Badger and supplemented with articles and advertisements from the archives of Velo-news magazine and with race videos from YouTube. VeloPress is pleased to archive these passages from Slaying the Badger, which is an incomparably detailed and highly revealing tale of cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry between the young American Greg LeMond and his teammate, the legendary French rider Bernard Hinault.

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