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Bernard Hinault

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Bernard Hinault
Bernard Hinault - Critérium du Dauphiné 2012 - Prologue (2).jpg
Hinault at the 2012 Critérium du Dauphiné
Personal information
Full name Bernard Hinault
Nickname Le Patron, Le Blaireau
Born (1954-11-14) 14 November 1954
Yffiniac, France
Team information
Current team Retired
Discipline Road
Role Rider
Rider type All-Rounder
Professional team(s)
La Vie Claire
Major wins

Grand Tours

Tour de France
General Classification ( 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1985)
Points Classification ( 1979)
Mountain Classification ( 1986)
Combativity award ( 1981, 1984, 1986)
Combination Classification ( 1981, 1982)
28 individual stages (1978 -1986)
Giro d'Italia
General Classification ( 1980, 1982, 1985)
7 Individual Stages (1980, 1982, 1985)
Vuelta a España
General Classification ( 1978, 1983)
7 Individual Stages ( 1978, 1983)

Stage races

Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
General classification (1977, 1979, 1981)
Tour de Romandie
General classification (1980)

One-day races and Classics

Road Race World Championships (1980)
Paris–Roubaix (1981)
Liège–Bastogne–Liège (1977, 1980)
Giro di Lombardia (1979, 1984)
La Flèche Wallonne (1979, 1983)
Ghent-Wevelgem (1977)
Amstel Gold Race (1981)
Grand Prix des Nations (1977, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1984)
Infobox last updated on
16 April 2007

Bernard Hinault (born 14 November 1954 in Yffiniac, Brittany) is a former French cyclist known for five victories in the Tour de France. He is one of only five cyclists to have won all three Grand Tours, and the only cyclist to have won each more than once. He won the Tour de France in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985. He came second in 1984 and 1986 and won 28 stages, of which 13 were individual time trials. The other three to have achieved at least five Tour de France victories are Jacques Anquetil ( 1964), Eddy Merckx ( 1974) and Miguel Indurain ( 1995). Even among these elite riders, Hinault is the only one to have finished either first or second in each Tour de France he finished.

Hinault was nicknamed Le Blaireau, initially for his looks, as he would often don a hairband, thus resembling a shaving brush. Later, the second meaning of this French word (the Badger) would become the dominant reason for his nickname, because the animal has the reputation of not letting go of his prey. Throughout his career, he's been known for his personality: independent, outspoken, quick to take offense and 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 started professional cycling in 1974. Hinault became friends with Cyrille Guimard, who was ending his career in part due to a knee injury. Guimard became a directeur sportif for the Gitane team and Hinault joined his team. In 1976, Hinault scored an early victory in Paris–Camembert. He demonstrated his time trial strength as he sustained his thin lead to the finish. That year, Guimard spurred Lucien Van Impe to his only win in the Tour de France. Taking Guimard's advice, Hinault did not enter in 1977. Yet he had demonstrated his talent in the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré where he beat many Tour favourites including eventual winner Bernard Thevenet. Of note in the Dauphiné Libéré that year was one of the mountain stages. Hinault, wearing the yellow jersey, was at the front after an attack on the ascent and heading for victory. But he crashed descending the mountain, climbed up from the roadside and got back on his bike for the win in Bastille of Grenoble.

To prepare for the 1978 Tour de France, Hinault rode his first grand tour, the Vuelta a España. He won and felt ready for his first Tour de France. Before the Tour, he won the national championship, which allowed him to wear the tricolour. This tour became a battle with Joop Zoetemelk, Hinault taking the yellow jersey after the final time trial. He was hailed as the next great French cyclist and won the Tour again in 1979.

In the 1980 Tour de France he abandoned while wearing the yellow jersey because of a knee injury but he returned to win the world championship in Sallanches that year.

The following year, 1981, wearing the rainbow jersey, he won Paris–Roubaix and returned to victory in the 1981 Tour and then again in 1982. He missed the Tour in 1983, again because of knee problems. The organiser, Jacques Goddet, said in his autobiography, L'Équipée Belle, that Hinault's 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 with Hinault second at more than 10 minutes.

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 that helped Hinault return to the Tour with a victory in 1985. That year he rode much of the race with a black eye after a crash. In 1985 Hinault's lieutenant Greg LeMond was under pressure from Koechli and his team manager to support Hinault and not try for victory. Years later, LeMond claimed in an interview that they had lied about his lead over Hinault in a mountain stage, forcing him to lose several minutes and his chance of victory.

Hinault also rode the 1986 Tour, ostensibly to return LeMond's favour of the previous year and help him win. Hinault rode an aggressive race, which he insisted was to demoralize rivals. He claimed his tactics were to wear down opponents and that he knew LeMond would win. Laurent Fignon and Urs Zimmermann were put on the defensive from the first day. Fignon quit due to injuries aggravated by stress. In the Alpe d'Huez stage Hinault mounted an early attack that gained a lot of time. LeMond then chased down Hinault and eventually took the yellow jersey from his teammate. LeMond was later quoted as feeling betrayed by Hinault's tactics.

Hinault had more than 200 victories in 12 years. He won the Giro d'Italia in 1980, 1982 and 1985, and the Vuelta a España in 1978 and 1983. He also won Classics including Paris–Roubaix (1981) and Liège–Bastogne–Liège (1977, 1980). His victory in the 1980 Liège–Bastogne–Liège is memorable because of snow from the start. Hinault made a solo attack and finished nearly 10 minutes ahead of his next rival.

Le Patron

Hinault was a boss of the peloton or "le Patron". He was prominent in a riders' strike at Valence d'Agen in the 1978 Tour 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 use his strength to humiliate the offender. To the public, Hinault was often arrogant, remote, and 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 organization, appearing at stage finishes to greet stage winners and jersey holders. He also worked for Look as a technical consultant and helped develop the Look clipless pedal. He has now finished with farming and in 2008 returned to cycling, but not to racing. Hinault has lost none of his fire in recent years: upon seeing a protester jump onto the podium at the end of stage 3 of 2008's Tour de France, in front of the winner - Samuel Dumoulin -, Hinault leapt forward without hesitation and shoved the protester off.

Professional highlights

Pro Team Sponsors

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

Main victories


Grand Prix des Nations
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Tour de France
Jersey yellow.svg 1st place overall classification
Winner stages 8, 15 and 20
3 days in yellow jersey
Vuelta a España
Jersey gold.svg 1st place overall classification
Winner of prologue and stages 11b, 12, 14, 18
Grand Prix des Nations
Tour de France
Jersey yellow.svg 1st place overall classification
Jersey green.svg 1st place points classification
Winner stages 2, 3, 11, 15, 21, 23 and 24
17 days in yellow jersey
Giro di Lombardia
La Flèche Wallonne
Grand Prix des Nations
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Tour de France
Winner prologue, stages 4 and 5
2 days in yellow jersey
Giro d'Italia
Jersey pink.svg 1st place overall classification
Winner stage 14
5 days in pink jersey
Arc en ciel.svg World Road Cycling Championship
Tour de Romandie
Tour de France
Jersey yellow.svg 1st place overall classification
Combination classification
Winner stages 7, 16, 20 and 22
18 days in yellow jersey
Winner Combativity award
Amstel Gold Race
Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré
Critérium International
Tour de France
Jersey yellow.svg 1st place overall classification
Combination classification
Winner prologue, stages 15, 20 and 22
12 days in yellow jersey
Giro d'Italia
Jersey pink.svg 1st place overall classification
Winner prologue, stages 3, 12, 18, 22
15 days in pink jersey
Grand Prix des Nations
Tour de Luxembourg

Critérium des As

Vuelta a España
Jersey gold.svg 1st place overall classification
Winner of stages 15b, 17
La Flèche Wallonne
Tour de France
Second place overall classification
Winner prologue
1 day in yellow jersey
Winner Combativity award
Giro di Lombardia
Grand Prix des Nations
Four Days of Dunkirk
Trofeo Baracchi (with Francesco Moser)
Tour de France
Jersey yellow.svg 1st place overall classification
Winner prologue, stage 8
16 days in yellow jersey
Giro d'Italia
Jersey pink.svg 1st place overall classification
Winner stage 12
10 days in pink jersey
Tour de France
Second place overall classification
Jersey polkadot.svg 1st place mountains classification
Winner stages 9, 18 and 20
5 days in yellow jersey
Winner Combativity award
Coors Classic
First place overall classification
Winner two stages

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

Grand Tours overall classification results timeline

Grand Tour 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986
gold jersey Vuelta 1 - - - - 1 - - -
Pink jersey Giro - - 1 - 1 - - 1 -
Yellow jersey Tour 1 1 WD 1 1 - 2 1 2

WD = Withdrew


  • "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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