Bernard Hinault (born 14 November, 1954 in Yffiniac, Brittany) is a 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 four to have achieved at least five victories are Jacques Anquetil (1964), Eddy Merckx (1974), Miguel Indurain (1995) and Lance Armstrong (2003).
Hinault was nicknamed Le Blaireau (the Badger) 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.
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.
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 favor 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, unsettling LeMond to the point where he chased Hinault. Hinault claimed his tactic was to wear opponents down by forcing them to chase him first, so that LeMond could beat them later.
Hinault had more than 200 victories 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.
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, Hinault leapt forward without hesitation and shoved the protester off.