Bernard Hinault Voted Best French Rider of All Time.
Bernard Hinault is the greatest French cycling champion of the postwar era, according to L'Equipe. The five-time Tour de France winner was voted the number one French rider of all time in a poll of the French sports daily's readers.
Bernard Hinault was an amazing cyclist within his generation for many reasons. His incredible success, winning a total of 147 professional races, including five Tour de France titles, is only rivaled by his intense intra-team rivalry with Greg LeMond. This only added to his legacy as one of the most memorable riders of his generation. Finally, Hinault's aggressive riding style earned him the nickname "The Badger." All of these factors combined to make Hinault one of the most exciting and impressive cyclists of his generation.
Flashback to the Coors International Bicycle Classic in 1985 with Hinault and Lemond riding together.
Hinault, who was also a two-time winner of the Vuelta a Espana and the Giro d'Italia, received 43 percent of the vote, ahead of Jacques Anquetil (32 percent) and Laurent Fignon (8 percent). Responding to his thoughts about the ranking, Hinault stated, "It represents the hierarchy well. It's difficult for me to analyze because I was elected in the first place, but if we judge by the achievements of each of us, everyone is well placed. We've always said that I was the second greatest behind Eddy Merckx in the world, so it makes sense that I'm first in France."
Hinault's victories in the Tour de France came in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1985. He is one of only two French riders to have won the Tour five times, along with Anquetil.
Hinault also won the Vuelta a Espana in 1978 and 1983. He is one of only four riders to have won the Tour and the Vuelta in the same year, along with Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, and Fausto Coppi.
Hinault's victory in the 1981 Giro d'Italia made him the first rider to win all three Grand Tours. He is one of only seven riders to have won all three Grand Tours. When asked about his reflection as a top contending French rider, Hinault responded, "I really realized it after my career. When I was racing, I only made my achievements for myself, I didn't care about what I represented. I never thought about being better than Jacques Anquetil, it's only later when people kept telling me that I had left a bigger mark on the history of French cycling than him, that I started to understand all of this. And to agree (laughs)."
He also spoke about the new generation of riders, as he was prompted if it was odd to see that Julian Alaphilippe made the top 10 list, "Not at all! He is the representative of the new generation that shines. For four or five years, he has been part of the French cycling heritage. He will be missed this year on the Tour de France, but he could only have done one week of racing, it wouldn't have been good for his image."
Hinault retired from racing in 1986 and was inducted into the International Cycling Hall of Fame in 1997.
Here is the full top 10 ranking by L'Equipe:
Bernard Hinault, 196 points
Jacques Anquetil, 184 points
Louison Bobet, 150 points
Raymond Poulidor, 143 points
Laurent Fignon, 116 points
Bernard Thévenet, 83 points
André Darrigade, 69 points
Julian Alaphilippe, 64 points
Laurent Jalabert, 53 points
Raphaël Geminiani, 16 points