Slaying the Badger – Richard Moore

This is a book about the dual for the yellow jersey between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault in the 1986 Tour de France.  This Tour is deemed to be one of the epic clashes as two talented cyclists, from the same team battled for supremacy.  For Hinault it would be an unprecedented sixth win.  For LeMond it would be his first, and he would be the first non-European to win the Tour. The backdrop to the race is the fact that LeMond gave up his own chance of victory the year before to support Hinault’s win and believed Hinault had promised to support him in 1986.

Given that this is a book about a bike race it’s slightly disconcerting to find out that the race only enters the book about 2/3 of the way through.  The first 2 sections are about the riders.

The book starts by giving a potted biography of Bernard Hinault up to the start of the race.  It describes his upbringing, his personality and his cycling career up to 1986.

The next section does the same for LeMond.

And then there is the description of what happened, stage by stage, in the race.

I really enjoyed the book.  I liked the fact that it describes the different viewpoints of the two protagonists and also uses the testimony of other team members, competitors and the Director Sportif’s Hinault and LeMond had worked with. It is also fairly even-handed in how it treats the 2 cyclists.

It was also interesting to find out more about the La Vie Clair team and how they brought cycling into the modern era.  Not something I knew much about and it has added to my knowledge of cycling.

I think the most frustrating thing is that I still don’t really know whether Hinault was stitching LeMond up or genuinely believed he was helping!

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