From the Library: The Badger


"Keep your bike straight... Keep your fucking bike straight." Quite a story to tell the grandchildren, yeah, there I was riding along, my first sportive, when someone behind me starts yelling. I turn around and there is Stephen Roche, but he wasn't the one doing the cursing, he points to the rider next to him as if to say, not me, it was him. So I flick my eyes over one rider and, holy crap, it's Bernard Hinault. I said, "I'm not used to riding in a peloton," to which HInault replied, "You'd better get used to it or this could be your last time." The moral of that story: If someone is going to tell you that you suck on a bike, better it be Bernard Hinault than some ordinary schmuck. 

In writing "The Badger" Fotheringham clearly undertook much research, and conducted extensive interviews in order to bring a readable account of the life and racing career of le blaireau. The book's pages are stocked with accounts like the one above, though most of them come from Hinault's compatriot racers, those who both competed with him, and against him. You may not find the detail that you do in Richard Moore's Slaying the Badger which, after all is more specific in its focus, while The Badger is more broad. You will flip the final page with a clear picture of why Hinault became the peloton's final true patron, and why he was, and remains so many years after his retirement, a dominant force in the sport.

Fotheringham, William   The Badger: The Life of Bernard Hinault and the Legacy of French Cycling   Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2015

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