And after Hinault, who? thumbnail

And after Hinault, who?

Cover of the biography of Bernard Hinault.

Oh-la-laShouted the commentator who was broadcasting the race on television. Instead, he meant that the cyclist Bernard Hinault had just left the plane. On June 4, 1977, the penultimate stage of the Dauphiné was held. After crowning the Col de Porte with a minute and 30 seconds ahead of his pursuers, he launched himself into the descent.

“I wanted more and more, I flew through the first three horseshoe curves of the descent, and in the fourth…!boom! […] it was as if a giant hand grabbed my neck. I approached the curve with too much speed, I braked, stepped on a sand patch and braked again, blocking the wheels completely, ”recalls the protagonist, who was thrown into a ravine. He landed on a tree that slowed the fall. The bike finished 30 meters lower, destroyed. They helped him out, gave him a spare vehicle. He achieved victory on the stage with a minute and 20 seconds of advantage over the second. That June afternoon, viewers who had seen the accident took to the road to cheer on the hero. Winning a stage is very good, but settling in the French national imagination is much better.

Hinault (Road books), is the title of the biography of the Breton champion written by journalist William Fotheringham. It carries as a subtitle Badger, which was the nickname by which the cyclist was known for his fighting ability. Winner of five Tours de France, three Giros d’Italia and two Vueltas a España and numerous classics, he performed well on the mountain, the time trial stages or the sprint finals.

He was the boss and he knew he was. He practiced as such in the races – making decisions about who could win the stage and who could not – and outside of them: representing his colleagues in the protests against the excess of cobblestones or for having to cross mountains in full snow. Of a complicated nature – they say that, if someone decided to go for it, they should first ask themselves how much damage they were willing to endure – it gave off great appeal to the media and the public. His matches with Laurent Fignon and Greg Lemond went down in sports history. He retired in 1986. Since then, France has been waiting for the successor of Badger.

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