We’re honored that Slaying the Badger has been named one of the 10 best cycling books by Outside magazine!
We hope you have enjoyed our coverage of the 1986 Tour de France, which we feel will go down in history as the greatest ever Tour.
We thank the over 12,000 visitors, 500 Twitter followers, and hundreds of Facebook friends who took time out of their July mornings to follow the race with us here and, more importantly, to share this story.
If you enjoyed this retelling of the 1986 Tour, please be assured that Richard Moore’s new book Slaying the Badger tells the story with far greater skill and in deeper, more fascinating detail. In fact, the book has gotten absolutely rave reviews from the media.
While much of our coverage was excerpted from the book (and drew from Geoff Drake and Jim Ochowicz’s excellent book Team 7-Eleven and the thoroughly enjoyable archives of Velo-news magazine) we have released only the highlights and critical plot moments here. The book has more depth, tension, and yes, even suspense, in part because of Moore’s excellent writing style and interviewing skills.
Slaying the Badger includes dozens of revealing interviews with bike racers and La Vie Claire personnel whose varying recollections of events, changed opinions, personal insights and private confessions paint a complete portrait of LeMond, Hinault, and the years that led up to this, the most important race of their careers and, arguably, the greatest ever Tour de France.
Would you be curious to know what Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, Andy Hampsten, Urs Zimmermann, Paul Kochli, and others thought of Slaying the Badger after reading the UK edition? The U.S. edition includes their reactions in a new Afterword.
To replay the 1986 Tour de France on this site (which will only be available for a limited time), please visit this post on Thomas Prehn and then begin clicking “Next” in the upper-right corner of the post to move forward to the next story in the chronology.
VeloPress sincerely thanks you for reading.
Greg LeMond helped raise America’s awareness of bicycling racing another notch beyond winning the Tour de France when he visited the White House for a private meeting with President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office.
Immediately upon leaving the White House, LeMond was confronted with a gaggle of reporters from the White House press corps, all of whom were likely seeing a professional bicycle racer for the first time. He took questions and spoke his replies into a thicket of microphones before him like any member of the Senate or Congress.
“I was shocked to be invited to the White House,” LeMond told reporters. “I didn’t think it would happen. I am happy that I got some recognition for cycling. I think that meeting with the President is my highest award. it is probably the biggest honor in my life to be invited to the White House.”
Accompanying LeMond were his wife, Kathy, and their son Geoffrey, age two and a half. LeMond presented President Reagan with a yellow jersey he had won as race leader in the Tour. President Reagan awarded LeMond with a jar of jelly beans, the President’s favorite candy, and two silver cups which were boxed and wrapped in gold paper embossed with the Presidential seal.
LeMond said the amount of media attention he has had since winning the Tour in Paris has been nearly overwhelming. He said he has been subjected to such a whirlwind of interviews and other engagements that he has had only five hours of sleep a night. “My life has just been nonstop,” he said with a weary smile.
His meeting with the President had to be postponed for a day. “I was feeling sick from exhaustion,” LeMond explained. Fortunately, it was not due to food poisoning. “It has been shocking to see the amount of press coverage I have had during the last few days. People even recognize me on the streets now because they’ve seen me on television.”
He said he was glad to see that his victory in France has helped cycling get more visibility in the United States. “American journalists and the American public don’t understand how important cycling is and how tough it is. All this publicity helps.”
When LeMond was asked if there was an ill will between him and five-time winner Bernard Hinault who had been his chief rival in the Tour despite being his teammate, LeMond smiled and simply shook is head. “We get along well,” he said, adding that Hinault was coming over to ride in the Coors Classic stage race which begins August 9 in San Francisco.
“There is a lot of pressure on me to ride well,” he said. “People saw me win the Tour de France and expect me to win the Coors Classic again like I did last year. Right now I need to spend some time just relaxing. I want to play golf for four or five days. I started playing golf a couple of years ago. I usually shoot 90 to 95 when I play.”
–Peter Nye for Velo-news
After what some observers have called the most exciting Tour de France ever, Greg LeMond today completed the 2,542 mile Tour in 110 hours, 35 minutes, and 19 seconds to become the first American to win the race.
Despite repeated attacks throughout the race from his La Vie Claire teammate Bernard Hinault, LeMond bested the French patron and 5-time Tour winner by 3 minutes 10 seconds, overcoming the Badger’s five-minute lead mid-race.
But there was one more minor scare in store for LeMond on today’s final, traditionally ceremonial stage into Paris. The final stage was a marathon 255 km on undulating roads from Cosne-sur-Loire into central Paris. After the champagne and the photos and the general cavorting, there was a crash in the middle of the peloton. At the bottom of the heap was LeMond.
It was a crash caused by inattention, probably induced by extreme fatigue, rather than sabotage. As LeMond picked up himself and his bike, which he inspected and remounted, body and machine were intact.
After a physically and mentally exhausting 4,300 km, 3 weeks, 23 stages, and 110 hours of racing, LeMond, as he began to chase back to the peloton, looked up and was confronted, in the no-man’s-land between him and the pack of riders, by a sight that almost knocked him off his bike again.
Ahead of him, standing on the pedals and slow-pedaling as he waited to pace his American teammate back to the peloton, was Bernard Hinault.
Today’s race report was adapted from Richard Moore’s new book Slaying the Badger, an incomparably detailed and highly revealing tale of cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry and the greatest ever Tour de France.
Find the book in your local bookstore, bike shop, or online in print and as an e-book:
After Bernard Hinault was weighed so he could be given his weight in coffee by cycling trade sponsor Cafe de Colombia, it was on to stage 22, a 194km ceremonial march from Clermont- Ferrand to Nevers.
A breakaway containing Hampsten, Bauer, and Kiefel was chased down by the Carrera team.
Bomtempi’s sprint victory over Hoste and Vanderaerden looked almost a formality.
LeMond remains in yellow and his victory in Paris tomorrow seems certain.
The stage results:
1. Bontempi 5:12:55 (37.18 kph)
2. Hoste s.t.
3. Vanderaerden s.t.
Watch the final km and sprint finish below: