By Barry Boyce,









Top 25 All Time Tours #19

1986- LeMond Wins After Hinault's Betrayal

CR Timeline 1986

Defending champion Bernard “the Badger” Hinault returned to the 1986 Tour de France (TdF) following his record tying fifth championship in 1985. Although the great French champion had the opportunity for an unprecedented sixth TdF championship, a 1985 promise of support to teammate Greg LeMond's 1986 bid deferred Hinault's chances. LeMond returned full of promise and ready to take full control of the powerful French team.

The Tour started with a record setting first day. Frenchman Thierry Marie nipped Erik Vanderarden for the prologue win and donned the first Maillot Jaune (race leader's Yellow Jersey) of 1986. Marie's hold on the Maillot Jaune was short lived, when during the second session Canadian Alex Stieda, broke away early on the 85 km stage 1. His solo effort gained all the intermediate time bonuses, and he finished the stage in a lead group of six riders. The time gains were enough to give Stieda an 8 second race lead and the honor of becoming the first North American rider to wear the Maillot Jaune.

The race for the overall classification began in earnest when the Tour reached the Pyrenees Mountains on stage 12. The classic stage from Bayonne to Pau saw Bernard Hinault and La Vie Claire teammate Jean-Francois Bernard attack team leader, Greg LeMond. Spanish climber Pedro Delgado quickly joined the pair as the breakaway began to gain time. LeMond, surprised by the move, was stuck in the peloton and again forced to follow team orders not to chase a teammate's breakaway. He had to wait for a reaction from the other contenders. That reaction never came and the Hinault group began to increase the lead. Hinault's breakaway finished 4'36” ahead of LeMond in third place. The aggressive riding gave Hinault the overall lead and the Maillot Jaune. A bewildered LeMond was now 5'25” behind Hinault in the Overall Classification, his Tour hopes and promises were secondary.

The next day featured the brutal stage in the Circle of Death (the hardest day of climbing in the Pyrenees Mountains, where Tour hopes can die). The always-aggressive Hinault remained on the attack. Over the summit of the Col du Tourmalet, the first climb of the stage, Hinault broke away again. He drove the pace over the Col d'Aspin and Col du Peyresourde, and rode solo toward the finishing climb to Superbagneres. The betrayal was very evident and a furious LeMond began to fight back!

LeMond kept his focus and turned his anger to the pedals. The American caught on Superbagneres and won the stage by 4'35”. Hinault's overall lead was down to only 40 seconds as the Tour exited the Pyrenees Mountains.

When the Tour reached the Alps on stage 16, Hinault went on the attack again. The Badger escapes the peloton between Nimes and Gap with third place rider Urs Zimmermann (Sui). This new betrayal and Zimmerman's move forced LeMond to chase the breakaway with maximum effort. The American got little help from his French teammates during the chase and LeMond had heated words for Hinault when the race came back together. The Le Vie Claire team had been split and the race for the overall classification had become personal.

LeMond stepped out of Hinault's shadow on stage 17. The daring American launched an attack of his own and escaped on the descent of the Col d'Izoard. Suisse contender Zimmermann joined him in the breakaway and the duo rode to the finish in Serre Chevalier 3'21” ahead of Hinault. The time gain on stage 17 was enough for LeMond to take the Maillot Jaune off the back of Hinault. LeMond seemed in control but the race was far from over.

The race schedule presented the next major challenge one day later in the form of the traditional stage to Alpe d'Huez. The now third placed Hinault attacked again on the descent of the first climb of the day, the Col du Galibier.

The attentive LeMond covered the move and the teammates rode away from the remaining peloton. The breakaway rode the final 90 km together and crossed the finish line hand in hand. “Had LeMond won the Tour today?” Most experts believed he had, but the Badger, the master of the time trial, still had the 58 km individual time trial (ITT) in St. Etienne.

Greg LeMond entered the ITT with a mission, take on the master and walk away with the overall victory. Physically LeMond was ready, but the pressures of the race were great. Hinault needed to gain 2'45” to catch the young American. Hinault was off next to last and rode brilliantly, finishing the 58 km course with the time to beat in 1h15'35”. LeMond riding last knew the time to beat at all the time checks and did not crack under the mental pressure. Despite minor mechanical problems along the course, he finished the ITT second to Hinault only 25 second behind.

Three days later, Greg LeMond rode into Paris to make history as the first American to win the prestigious Tour de France championship. Bernard “the Badger” Hinault finished second overall, won the Maillot Pois (best climber's Polka Dot Jersey).

SPECIAL NOTE: The early 1980's marked the arrival of new TdF contenders from English speaking countries. Australian Phil Anderson led the way in 1981 with a 10 th place finish. The TdF's popularity began to spread to new countries around the world. The American 7-11 team became first professional cycling team from the USA to qualify for the Tour in 1986.

TdF 1986 Recap

Stage and Distance

Stage Winner

Race Leader

Prologue BOULOGNE BILLANCOURT, 4.6 km ITT Thierry Marie (Fra) Thierry Marie (Fra)
Stage 1 NANTERRE-SCEAUX, 85 km Pol Verschuere (Bel) Alex Stieda (Can) **
Stage 2 MEUDON-ST QUENTIN YVELINE, 56 km TTT Team System U Thierry Marie (Fra)
Stage 3 LEVALLOIS PERRET-LIEVIN, 214 km Davis Phinney (USA) Thierry Marie (Fra)
Stage 4 LIEVIN-EVREUX, 243 km Pello Ruiz-Cabestany (Spa) Dominique Gaigne (Fra)
Stage 5 EVREUX-VILLERS SUR MER, 124 km Johan Van der Velde (Ned) Johan Van der Velde (Ned)
Stage 6 VILLERS SUR MER-CHERBOURG, 200 km Guido Bontempi (Ita) Johan Van der Velde (Ned)
Stg 7 CHERBOURG-ST HILAIRE HARCOUET, 201 km Ludo Peeters (Bel) Jorgen Pedersen (Den)
Stage 8 ST HILAIRE HARCOUET-NANTES, 204 km Eddy Planckaert (Bel) Jorgen Pedersen (Den)
Stage 9 NANTES-NANTES, 62 km ITT Bernard Hinault (Fra) Jorgen Pedersen (Den)
Stage 10 NANTES-FUTUROSCOPE, 183 km Angel-Jose Sarrapio (Spa) Jorgen Pedersen (Den)
Stage 11 POITIERS-BORDEAUX, 258 km Rudy Dhaenens (Bel) Jorgen Pedersen (Den)
Stage 12 BAYONNE-PAU, 218 km Pedro Delgado (Spa) Bernard Hinault (Fra)
Stage 13 PAU-LUCHON/Superbagneres, 186 km Greg LeMond (USA) Bernard Hinault (Fra)
Stage 14 LUCHON-BLAGNAC, 154 km Niki Ruttimann (Sui) Bernard Hinault (Fra)
Stage 15 CARCASSONNE-NIMES, 225 km Frank Hoste (Bel) Bernard Hinault (Fra)
Stage 16 NIMES-GAP, 246 km Jean-Francois Bernard (Fra) Bernard Hinault (Fra)
Stage 17 GAP-SERRE CHEVALIER, 190 km Eduardo Chozas (Spa) Greg LeMond (USA)
Stage 18 BRIANCON-ALPE D'HUEZ, 162 km Bernard Hinault (Fra) Greg LeMond (USA)
Stage 19 VILLARD DE LANS-ST ETIENNE, 179 km Julian Gorospe (Spa) Greg LeMond (USA)
Stage 20 ST ETIENNE-ST ETIENNE, 58 km ITT Bernard Hinault (Fra) Greg LeMond (USA)
Stage 21 ST ETIENNE-PUY DE DOME, 190 km Erich Maechler (Sui) Greg LeMond (USA)
Stage 22 CLERMONT FERRAND-NEVERS, 194 km Guido Bontempi (Ita) Greg LeMond (USA)
Stage 23 COSNE SUR LOIRE-PARIS/Champs Elysees, 255 km Guido Bontempi (Ita) Greg LeMond (USA)
Bernard Hinault (Fra) Eric Vanderaerden (Bel)

TdF Champion: Greg LeMond (USA)

Starters: 210

Finishers: 132

Distance: 4,092 km

Average: 36.950 km/h


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