Bernard Hinault, French, 1954 -
Bernard Hinault is one of the traditional 4 ‘greats’ of the history of the Tour - sharing that status with Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain, all off whom won on five occasions. Hinault’s victories came in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985. Until the appearance of Lance Armstrong it was widely assumed that five was the most Tour wins that any human body could produce in one lifetime. Perhaps Lance proved that to be true.
Despite his being the dominant racing cyclist of my own generation, my memories of Bernard Hinault (‘The Badger’ to his friends) are strangely absent.
Perhaps it is all down to the ‘meeja’. Hinault seemed neither gloss white hero nor matte black villain, neither chilly iceman nor tempestuous emotional fireball. Something about him failed to generate the flowery newspaper prose that provided my pre-TV experience of the Tour. For me, he was just too modern to attain the legendary, nay mythical, status of the earlier Merckx and Anquetil.
And, of course, he was not quite modern enough to feature in the three week, nightly, soap opera that is TV coverage of the Tour in the UK. Channel 4 did not even launch until 1982 and I think that the first year that it covered the Tour was 1986. While Hinault missed out, Phil ‘n Paul were, by 1991, well able to immortalise Miguel Indurain’s poker faced stoicism in all its enigmatic glory.
In terms of derailleurs, The Badger won all his Tours riding Campagnolo. The ultimate incarnation of classic-Super-Record-man.
My guess is that this photo dates from the 1979 Tour.