Bernard Hinault

From Academic Kids

Bernard Hinault (born 14 November, 1954) is a French cyclist best known for his five victories in the Tour de France. He is also one of only four cyclists to have won all three Grand Tours, and the only cyclist to have won each Grand Tour more than once. His first place Tour de France achievements were in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985. In addition, he placed second in 1984 and 1986 and won 28 stages, of which 13 were individual time trials. The other four cyclists to have achieved at least five first place victories in the Tour de France are Jacques Anquetil (1964), Eddy Merckx (1974), Miguel Induráin (1995) and Lance Armstrong (2003). The French call Hinault Le Blaireau (the Badger) because of his personality: fiercely independent, outspoken, quick to take offense and often quick with a riposte.



Cycling Career

Hinault, born in the town of Yffiniac in Brittany started his professional cycling career in 1974. In the beginning of his career he was closely associated with Cyrille Guimard, an innovator in cycling and Directeur Sportif of the Renault team. Taking Guimard's advice, Hinault did not enter Tour de France in 1977 in order to better prepare for the 1978 Tour, which he won. He was immediately hailed as the next great French cyclist and won the Tour again in 1979. In the 1980 Tour he was forced to abandon while wearing the yellow jersey because of a knee injury, but he returned to victory in the following two years, 1981 and 1982. He missed the Tour in 1983 and 1984, again because of knee problems. During his absence, his teammate Laurent Fignon rose to prominence by winning the Tour in both years.

Disagreements with Guimard led to their separation, and by the mid-1980s Hinault had become associated with the Swiss coach Paul Koechli and the La Vie Claire team. Koechli introduced meditation and relaxation methods that helped Hinault to return to the Tour with a victory in 1985. That year he rode much of the race with a black eye received in a serious crash. In the 1985 Tour Hinault's lieutenant Greg LeMond was under strong pressure from Koechli and his team manager to support Hinault and not try for a victory of his own. Years later, LeMond claimed in an interview that they had lied to him about his lead over Hinault, thus forcing him to lose several minutes and his chance for a first Tour victory. Hinault also entered the 1986 Tour, in which he attacked LeMond, despite having publicly promised to help LeMond win in gratitude for his assistance the previous year. LeMond emerged the winner.

In addition to the Tour de France, Hinault was very successful in other cycling events, with more than 200 professional victories over his twelve year professional career. In 1980, he won the World Cycling Championship in Sallanches, France. In the other two Grand Tours, he won the Giro d'Italia in 1980, 1982 and 1985, and the Vuelta a España in 1978 and 1983. He also had first place victories in one-day Classics including Paris-Roubaix (1981) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1977, 1980). His victory in the 1980 Liège-Bastogne-Liège is particularly memorable because of a horrible snow storm that besieged the race from the start. Hinault made a solo attack and finished 30 minutes ahead of his next rival.

Le Patron

Hinault is widely considered to have been the last boss of the peloton or "le Patron". He successfully led a riders' strike in 1978 to protest split stages in the Tour, in which the riders had to ride a stage in the morning and another one in the afternoon. He also imposed discipline and often cooperation among riders, once decreeing that "there will be no attacks today because tomorrow's stage will be difficult". He was respected for his stance on the side of the riders but was feared by many of them for his temperament. If he felt sllighted by another rider he would not hesitate to use his great strength to humiliate the offender. To his public, Hinault was often seen as arrogant, remote and frustratingly shy of publicity. When an interviewer suggested that he might perhaps devote more attention to his fans he replied, famously, “I race to win, not to please people.” Hinault was also known as a prankster. He once invited reporters to view a film of a recent victory, only to show them a pornographic film instead and have a laugh at their expense.


After retiring from professional cycling in 1986, Hinault returned to farming in his native Brittany and worked for the Tour de France race organisation, often appearing at stage finishes to greet the stage winners and jersey holders. He also worked for LOOK Cycles as a technical consultant and helped develop the Look clipless safety pedal.

Professional Highlights

Pro Team Sponsors:

  • Gitane: 1977
  • Renault: 1978-1983
  • La Vie Claire: 1984-1986

Notable Victories:

Hinault also won the season-long Super Prestige Pernod International competition four consecutive times up to 1982, equalling Jacques Anquetil's total.


  • "I slept like a baby the night before, because I knew that I'd win the next day," on winning the World Championship at Saalanches, France, in 1980.
  • "In the beginning of the year, I choose a few races that I want to win. Other than those races, I'm willing to work for others."
  • "Cyrille Guimard does not listen to you, but in the races he is a tactical genius," on his relationship with former manager / directeur sportif Cyrille Guimard.
  • "As long as I breathe, I attack."
  • "He has a head, two arms, two legs, just as I," in reference to whether he fears Eddy Merckx.

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