Bernard Hinault

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Bernard Hinault

Bernard Hinault (right) in the Tour de France 2005.
Personal information
Full name Bernard Hinault
Nickname Le Patron
Date of birth November 14, 1954
Country France
Team information
Current team Retired
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type Allround
Professional team(s)
La Vie Claire
Major wins
Tour de France 1978: overall winner, 3 stages

Tour de France 1979: overall winner, green jersey, 7 stages
Tour de France 1980: 3 stages
Tour de France 1981: overall winner, 5 stages
Tour de France 1982: overall winner, 4 stages
Tour de France 1984: second place, 1 stage
Tour de France 1985: overall winner, 2 stages
Tour de France 1986: second place, polka-dot jersey, 3 stages
Giro d'Italia (1980, 1982, 1985)
Vuelta a España (1978, 1983)
Grand Prix des Nations (1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984)
World Road Cycling Championship (1980)
Paris-Roubaix (1981)
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (1977, 1979, 1981)
Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1977, 1980)
Giro di Lombardia (1979, 1984)
La Flèche Wallonne (1979, 1983)
Gent-Wevelgem (1977)
Amstel Gold Race (1981)
Tour de Romandie (1980)
Quatre Jours de Dunkerque (1984)

Infobox last updated on:
April 16, 2007

Bernard Hinault (born 14 November 1954 in Yffiniac, Bretagne) 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 Indurain ( 1995) and Lance Armstrong ( 2003). Hinault was originally nicknamed Le Blaireau (the Badger) because the animal has the reputation of not letting go of his prey easily. Throughout his career, he 's been known for his distinctive personality : fiercely independent, outspoken, quick to take offense and often quick with a riposte. In an interview in the French magazine, Vélo, however, Hinault said the nickname had nothing to do with the animal. He said it was a local cyclists' way of saying "mate" or "buddy" in his youth - "How's it going, badger?" - and that it came to refer to him personally.


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 manager of the Gitane team. Taking Guimard's advice, Hinault did not enter Tour de France in 1977 so as to prepare for the 1978 Tour de France, which he won. He was hailed as the next great French cyclist and won the Tour again in 1979. In the 1980 Tour de France 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, again because of knee problems. The organiser of the Tour, Jacques Goddet, said in his autobiography, L'Équipée Belle, that Hinault's persistent knee problems came from pushing gears that were too high. During Hinault's absence, his teammate Laurent Fignon rose to prominence by winning the Tour in 1983. In the 1984 Tour de France Fignon won the race with Hinault second at more than 10 minutes behind.

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 return to the Tour with a victory in 1985. That year he rode much of the race with a black eye received in a crash. In the 1985 Tour Hinault's lieutenant Greg LeMond was under 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 in a mountain stage, forcing him to lose several minutes and his chance of a first Tour victory.

Hinault also entered the 1986 Tour, ostensibly to return LeMond's favour of the previous year and help LeMond win his first Tour. Hinault rode an aggressive race, which he insisted was to deter and demoralize their rivals. He claimed his tactics were to wear down LeMond's (and his) opponents and that he knew that LeMond would he win because of time losses earlier in the race. Regardless of motives, this tactic worked well, and Laurent Fignon and Urs Zimmermann were put on the defensive from the first day. Fignon quit the race due to injuries aggravated by stress. In the Alpe d'Huez stage Hinault mounted an early attack that gained a lot of time, unsettling LeMond to the point where he felt that he had to chase Hinault. Hinault claimed his tactic was to wear opponents down by forcing them to chase him first, so that LeMond could beat them later.

In addition to the Tour de France, Hinault was successful in other events, with more than 200 victories over his twelve year professional career. In 1980, he won the World Cycling Championship in Salanches, 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 memorable because of a snow storm that besieged the race from the start. Hinault made a solo attack and finished nearly 10 minutes ahead of his next rival.

Le Patron

Hinault is considered the last boss of the peloton or "le Patron". He was prolinent in a riders' strike at Valence d'Agen in the 1978 Tour de France to protest against split stages, in which the riders had to ride a stage in the morning and another 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 by riders but feared by many for his temperament. If he felt slighted by another rider he would not hesitate to use his great strength to humiliate the offender. To the public, Hinault was often seen as arrogant, remote and frustratingly shy of publicity. When an interviewer suggested he devote more attention to fans, Hinault replied, "I race to win, not to please people".


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

Professional highlights

Pro Team Sponsors

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

Main victories

  • Tour de France (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)
    • General Classification Maillot jaune ( 75 days total)
    • Points Classification Maillot vert (1979)
    • Climbing Classification Maillot à pois rouge (1986)
  • Giro d'Italia (1980, 1982, 1985)
  • Vuelta a España (1978, 1983)
  • Grand Prix des Nations (1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984)
  • World Road Cycling Championship (1980)
  • Paris-Roubaix (1981)
  • Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré (1977, 1979, 1981)
  • Liège-Bastogne-Liège (1977, 1980)
  • Giro di Lombardia (1979, 1984)
  • La Flèche Wallonne (1979, 1983)
  • Gent-Wevelgem (1977)
  • Amstel Gold Race (1981)
  • Tour de Romandie (1980)
  • Quatre Jours de Dunkerque (1984)

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 Salanches, 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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