LeMond Guts It Out for 60km with Food Poisoning!

Bernard Hinault Sportscaster card from 1978

According to riders interviewed after today’s Stage 10 from Nantes to Futuroscope, the stench was overpowering: a rotten, putrid smell, so bad that several riders looked around, their faces screwing up as though they were sucking on lemons. The peloton watched Greg LeMond, fourth in line, being led back to the pack by a string of his La Vie Claire teammates.

“LeMond was third or fourth in line, and the fucking smell was horrendous,” said Paul Kimmage, the Irish rider on the French RMO team. Kimmage says he saw a brown liquid streaking the insides of the American’s legs, running into his shoes.

“I remember looking at LeMond,” continues Kimmage, “and thinking, Christ, how the fuck can he do that?”

“I think it was a bad peach,” LeMond said. After eating it, his stomach reacted violently, much like Bob Roll just two days ago on Stage 8 into Nantes.

LeMond turned to a teammate: “Pass me your hat.”

“What do you want my hat for?”

“Pass me the goddamn hat!”

He took the small cotton team cap, shoved it down his shorts, maneuvered it into position, and filled it until it was overflowing. He tried to clean himself up, but it was hopeless; then he tossed the hat into the hedgerow, and began the grim task of getting back into the race, slotting in behind the three teammates who’d dropped back from the peloton to wait for him.

“I mean literally, it was dripping into my wheels, it was flying off the spokes. And then everyone separated off from me. We were single file, we were going hard, and I was cramping, my stomach.”

With his stomach churning, LeMond had 60km of the stage to endure: more than an hour of agony, every second of it spent craving the isolation and privacy of a toilet.

“When you get that kind of deal, it’s a really personal thing, and you need isolation. You’re dying. I needed to be alone. Sitting in the peloton, like, ooooh, I wanna be alone.”

As the two hundred riders swarmed across the line in Futuroscope, most eased up, dropped a foot to the road, straddled their bike and reached for a drinking bottle. LeMond didn’t. He weaved urgently through all the bodies, the riders, soigneurs and reporters, searching for his team’s motorhome. He’d never been in it before—it was used mainly for storage—but he knew it had a toilet.

Entering the motorhome LeMond found it packed with boxes, but, tiptoeing awkwardly in his cleated cycling shoes, he negotiated a passage and ripped open the cubicle door. The toilet was gone. Where it had been, there were more boxes. LeMond was desperate. He tore off the lid of the largest box, inside which were thousands upon thousands of postcards.

Bernard Hinault Sportscaster card from 1978
An early Bernard Hinault trading card

Staring up at him, on each of these cards, was the smiling, handsome face of his teammate, Bernard Hinault. But LeMond didn’t hesitate: he yanked at them, pulling out bundles of cards to create a borehole in the middle. Then he dropped his shorts, sat down and found glorious relief amid—and upon—approximately 40,000 depictions of the great Frenchman.

The common perception is that Greg LeMond has been crapped upon by Bernard Hinault at the 1986 Tour de France. What most don’t know is that today in Futuroscope, LeMond got there first.

Will LeMond recover from his bout of food poisoning in time for the Tour’s first mountain stage in two days? Please join us tomorrow for continued coverage of the 1986 Tour de France.

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.