Team 7-Eleven’s Alexi Grewal, the winner of the 1984 Olympic road race, described Hinault’s solo attack on this second day in the Pyrenees as “undoubtedly the most stupid move of the race so far. Here Hinault is leading by 5½ minutes, he’s got Greg at an extreme disadvantage, then he breaks away with three big mountains left. What does he expect? That everybody’s going to give up? He did it because he thought he was too good. He said to himself, ‘I’m Bernard Hinault, a superstud. I’ll show ’em.’ If it had worked, he’d have been a legend.”
As Grewal rode past the drifting Hinault and took in the Badger’s glazed expression, he realized Hinault was done for.
“He was dead in the water, standing still. I thought, God, he’s finished,” Grewal told Rolling Stone reporter Trip Gabriel.
“From the time we caught him to the time we passed him, his speed never changed. He was in a huge gear—he’s always in a huge gear—but he didn’t even try to pedal. He didn’t even see us go by. To him, the rest of us weren’t even in the race.”
Just minutes before his own attack, Hampsten revealed that he, too, was bonking.
“Let me tell you something you won’t know,” said Andy Hampsten after the stage. “Before that last climb, Hinault’s bonked, he’s blown, and the favorites are racing neck and neck to the base of Superbagnères. I got dropped because I was kinda bonking there, too. But I could see Greg with the leaders—all the really dangerous guys—just up the road. There was a bit of a false flat in the valley. And Robert Millar was going well; I could get on his wheel and get back up to the group. I could tell Greg was full of energy, but everyone was looking at him to attack. He really needed someone else to attack, to stir the pot, so he could counter.”
“I came back to the group with Millar at exactly the point where the road turned and got steeper, so I attacked just to… because no one had any idea we were coming up, and I could see Greg needed someone to do that. I gave him a look as I went by to say, Hey, I’m not trying to win.
“On TV, it looks fantastic!” Hampsten laughs. “It looks like Andy Hampsten’s going to win the Tour de France, you know? After about four seconds I think this myself, then remember, Oh, yeah, I’m bonking! I can’t sustain this.”
Visit this evening as we seek comment from the Badger himself!
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.