A week out from the start of the 1986 Tour de France, five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault, the Badger, has responded to rumors swirling in the peloton about his upcoming retirement and who — if anyone — might fill his spot on the La Vie Claire team.
In the June 27 issue of Velo-news, Hinault revealed that he has “always seen [Greg LeMond] as my successor. But now on the team I think I have another: Hampsten. I have put them on a par ever since I saw Hampsten dominate Greg in the time trials of the Coors Classic, and I think he is superior in the mountains. It’s true that since I have known Hampsten I have revised my judgment about who will succeed me.”
Hinault’s five Tour de France victories have not blinded him from the realities that his career will come to an end, and his potential successor will be only a bike length behind ready to take his position.
Cycling journalist Richard Moore writes that Guimard traveled to LeMond’s home in Reno with Hinault and Jean-Marie Leblanc, a journalist with L’Equipe, who came along to act as translator.
Guimard said, “I wanted to go there above all because it was important for me to see how Greg lived in the USA. You can bring someone over, put them in an apartment, but it’s not just a case of transporting them — you have to integrate them” into the European peloton.
He said Hinault enjoyed the trip. “That’s the kind of situation the Badger likes. He’s quite an open person, actually. The idea of going to the USA to meet an American was quite sympa for him.”
As for why Hinault was willing to make the trip, the Badger said, “I’d already said in 1980 that I’d stop riding in 1986. We went all the way to Reno because we believed in LeMond.”
If enjoyed this passage from Slaying the Badger, you’ll love the award-winning book by Richard Moore! Slaying the Badger recounts in incomparable detail the extraordinary rivalry between young American Greg LeMond and his teammate, the legendary French rider Bernard Hinault, at the 1986 Tour de France. This article is a replay of the 1986 Tour de France created by VeloPress using passages from Slaying the Badger, the archives of Velo-news magazine, and race videos from YouTube. VeloPress published “race reports” from the 1986 Tour de France during each day of the 2012 Tour de France. VeloPress is pleased to archive this 1986 Tour de France replay for your enjoyment.