Slaying the Badger
Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault, and the Greatest Tour de France
By Richard Moore
(Velo Press, Paperback, 9781934030875, 304pp.)
Publication Date: May 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Categories: Cycling - General
Bernard Hinault is "Le Blaireau," the Badger. Tough as old boots, he is the old warrior of the French peloton, as revered as he is feared for his ferocious attacks. He has won 5 Tours de France, marking his name into the history books as a member of cycling's most exclusive club.
Yet as the 1986 Tour de France ascends into the mountains, a boyish and friendly young American named Greg LeMond threatens the Badger—and France’s entire cycling heritage. Known as "L'Américain," the naïve Tour newcomer rides strongly, unafraid.
The stakes are high. Winning for Hinault means capping his long cycling career by becoming the first man to win the Tour six times. For LeMond, a win will bring America its first Tour de France victory. So why does their rivalry shock the world?
LeMond and Hinault ride for the same team.
Asked by a reporter why he attacked his own teammate, the Badger replies, "Because I felt like it." and "If he doesn't buckle, that means he's a champion and deserves to win the race. I did it for his own good."
LeMond becomes paranoid, taking other riders' feed bags in the feed zone and blaming crashes on sabotage. Through it all, with the help of his American teammate Andy Hampsten, LeMond rides like a champion and becomes the first American to win the Tour de France. His win signals the passing of cycling's last hide-bound generation and the birth of a new breed of riders.
In Slaying the Badger, award-winning author Richard Moore traces each story line to its source through innumerable interviews—not only with LeMond and Hinault in their own homes but also with teammates, rivals, race directors, journalists, sponsors, and promoters. Told from these many perspectives, the alliances, tirades, and broken promises divulged in Slaying the Badger build to the stunning climax of the 1986 Tour de France. Slaying the Badger is an incomparably detailed and highly revealing tale of cycling's most extraordinary rivalry.
Richard Moore is a freelance journalist and author. His first book, In Search of Robert Millar, won Best Biography at the 2008 British Sports Book Awards. His second book, Heroes, Villains & Velodromes, was long-listed for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year. He writes on cycling and sport and is a regular contributor to the Guardian, Sky Sports and The Scotsman. He is also a former racing cyclist who represented Scotland at the 1998 Commonwealth Games.
"[Slaying the Badger is] a gripping narrative of this psychological and physical three-week war." — Wall Street Journal
"From the opening pages, this is a book that grips. Combining great insight, interviews and anecdotes with wonderfully vivid writing, it is thoroughly researched and well written." — Scotland on Sunday
"[Slaying the Badger offers] intriguing insight into one of professional cycling's greatest rivalries...Where Slaying the Badger succeeds is in making such a well-known story so readable." — BikeRadar.com
"Richard Moore's excellent new book Slaying the Badger reexamines the mythology of this great race, attempting to shed new light on the motivations of these two great riders and what really happened on the roads of France in the summer of '86. What helps set Moore's book apart is the array of characters he brings to the story...A thrilling read." — Red Kite Prayer
"[Moore assembles] a stellar cast of interviewees, about twenty in all…The stars are, inevitably, Hinault and LeMond themselves, both with their own memories of what did and did not happen. But they're almost outshone by three of the supporting cast...For those three interviews alone, Slaying the Badger is worth reading.” — Podium Cafe
"Both men invite Moore into their homes: a privilege that clearly took some badger-like tenacity to secure. But it was worth the effort as Moore gains fresh insight into the rivalry." — East Anglian Daily Times
"Captivating...Slaying the Badger is a mixture of clear-eyed journalistic analysis and unashamed nostalgia." — The Times Literary Supplement
"Masterly, relevant and intriguing." — Washingmachinepost.net
"Moore entertainingly unravels the complexities of the relationships within the peloton." — Guardian
"Moore magnificently offers a fresh perspective, bringing alive this supreme tussle...A gripping read." — Blazin' Saddles, a blog from Eurosport.com