But the 1986 Tour stands out as the year in which a show-stopping rivalry had spectators across the world gripped.
When Greg LeMond – a blue-eyed, blonde-haired Californian boy, dubbed ‘L’American’ – won the 1986 Tour, he made history. The first non-European to win the Yellow Jersey, he broke the Old World stranglehold and changed the face of the competition.
But LeMond’s victory was hard won. It was seemingly snatched from the jaws of the man ominously dubbed ‘The Badger’. Frenchman Bernard ‘Le Blaireau’ Hinault was five times winner of the Tour and as tough as boots. After winning the 1985 Tour, in which LeMond came a close second, Hinault vowed to return for one final Tour, and with a single purpose: to help LeMond win.
But could Hinault be trusted? As the race circled France, he repeatedly attacked LeMond. Hinault claimed to the press that his apparent treachery was merely intended to make LeMond stronger. But LeMond, who didn’t believe him, became increasingly fearful, anxious and paranoid.
The Tour is renowned for its psychological complexity – but what played out in 1986 was unheard of. Why was Hinault putting his own teammate in jeopardy? Would LeMond crack under the pressure? Something sinister was going on but no one – not even LeMond – knew quite what.
Slaying the Badger relives the adrenaline, the agony, the camaraderie, the betrayals, and the pure exhilaration of the 1986 Tour. Richard Moore has interviewed all the key players including the story’s two enigmatic, eccentric and fiercely different protagonists. As he delves behind the scenes, the biggest conundrum of Tour history is finally laid bare.