Slaying the Badger: Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France

By Richard Moore

Bernard Hinault is "Le Blaireau," the Badger. difficult as outdated boots, he's the previous warrior of the French peloton, as respected as he's feared for his ferocious assaults. He has gained five excursions de France, marking his identify into the background books as a member of cycling's such a lot unique club.

Yet because the 1986 journey de France ascends into the mountains, a boyish and pleasant younger American named Greg LeMond threatens the Badger—and France’s complete biking historical past. referred to as "L'Américain," the naïve journey newcomer rides strongly, unafraid.

The stakes are excessive. profitable for Hinault capacity capping his lengthy biking profession through turning into the 1st guy to win the journey six occasions. For LeMond, a win will convey the United States its first journey de France victory. So why does their contention surprise the world?

LeMond and Hinault journey for a similar team.

Asked through a reporter why he attacked his personal teammate, the Badger replies, "Because I felt like it." and "If he doesn't buckle, that implies he's a champion and merits to win the race. I did it for his personal good."

LeMond turns into paranoid, taking different riders' feed luggage within the feed quarter and blaming crashes on sabotage. via all of it, with the aid of his American teammate Andy Hampsten, LeMond rides like a champion and turns into the 1st American to win the travel de France. His win signs the passing of cycling's final hide-bound iteration and the start of a brand new breed of riders.

In Slaying the Badger, award-winning writer Richard Moore lines each one tale line to its resource via innumerable interviews—not merely with LeMond and Hinault of their personal houses but in addition with teammates, competitors, race administrators, newshounds, sponsors, and promoters. informed from those many views, the alliances, tirades, and damaged gives you divulged in Slaying the Badger construct to the lovely climax of the 1986 journey de France. Slaying the Badger is an incomparably particular and hugely revealing story of cycling's so much notable rivalry.

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It’s a skinny ribbon of tarmac in the course of the fields, a quarter-mile lengthy, and with a cluster of structures on the finish: a vast, two-storey condominium, barns and outhouses containing, between deserted equipment, a Massey Ferguson tractor and a Skoda vehicle. The backyard is neat, ordered and extremely fresh for a farm. At nine. forty three a. m. i'm status, freezing, dealing with a two-storey farmhouse. The silence is absolute. it kind of feels to be too chilly even for birds. So, this can be the Badger’s sett; like him, it sort of feels good-looking, proud and self-contained. It additionally turns out a piece early to seem at his door, however the possible choices are constrained. actually, there's just one replacement – snooping round – however the effects of being stuck snooping round via the Badger don’t fairly undergo considering. Ringing the doorbell early turns out optimum. i glance up on the residence, and at that second, in a small window at the moment ground, a face seems to be. It’s him: the Badger. He solutions the door donning black thin-rimmed glasses, which provide him an incongruously studious visual appeal. he's donning a light blue Lacoste pullover, indigo blue denims, and trainers. he's brief and stocky, with thick darkish eyebrows, however the overwhelming influence is of familiarity: his face continues to be nearly spookily recognisable from all these photos from the Eighties of the snarling, competitive motorbike rider. Hinault’s darkish brown hair will be thinning, a bit of, yet his eyes – no longer blue, as they’ve been defined, yet darker – are as penetrating as ever. It used to be his jaw, relatively, that outlined him; it appeared continually to be clenched, as if he used to be gripping whatever together with his tooth. Now fifty-five, he nonetheless appears severe, stern, as if he potential enterprise, yet his jaw is comfortable. Hinault extends a wide hand, gripping mine firmly. And even supposing eye touch is fleeting, he's welcoming. that's a shock, considering I’d been instructed via a journalist pal to not anticipate a hot welcome from Le Blaireau. ‘I did an interview with him in his condo in 1985,’ my buddy had instructed me. ‘His spouse was once there. My spouse took the photographs. We have been there for a minimum of a few hours. He by no means provided us a espresso. My spouse acknowledged afterwards, “He didn’t even provide us a pitcher of water. ” I stated, “I imagine in his international there are not any social graces. ” that's simply the type of man he's. Coarse. ’ on the front to his domestic, Hinault shakes my hand, exhibits me in, via a dismal, austere corridor and right into a colossal but homely kitchen, divided in through a worktop. within the eating zone he invitations me to take a seat at an extended banquet-style desk, surrounded via ten seats. it kind of feels to be the type of condominium the place there are few distractions or resources of leisure. definitely no radio, tv, books, magazines or newspapers are in facts. there's no signal, both, of Hinault’s spouse, Martine, the mayor of Calorguen. it's deathly quiet, the one sound that of a clock ticking. Hinault takes to the air his glasses and locations them at the desk, then disappears into the kitchen and returns brandishing a wide white plastic espresso pot. ‘Café?

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