Did Hinault give LeMond permission to attack?
“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.”
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.”
This coverage of the 1986 Tour de France was adapted from Richard Moore’s new book Slaying the Badger. For much more on cycling’s most extraordinary rivalry and the greatest ever Tour de France, please find the book in your local bookstore, bike shop, or online.