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The Badger at 50
A Conversation with Bernard Hinault
Interview and English translation by Daniel J. Smiechowski
Editor Note: We are pleased to post this exclusive interview with one of the Cycling World's all time greats. Facts and photo links on The Badger at end of interview.
The rain gently fell amid the grey skies of Brittany as I drove into the ancient town of Dinan, home to five time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault. The smell of freshly baked French bread and coffee surrounded my entry onto the farm of Monsieur Hinault, some five kilometers outside city limits.
Hinault looked trim and fit, in good spirits as he invited me inside to what seemed a 400-year-old farmhouse. Our interview was conducted entirely in French, which, I believe, accounted for its compatibility, goodwill and mutual respect.
The conversation began as such:
Smiechowski: What are you doing now?
Hinault: I am working as public relations director for the Tour de France and maintaining my farm.
Smiechowski: Do you still ride the bike?
Hinault: No, not at all...I believe there are two periods in life, one for the bike, the other for becoming active on one's work. I may, however, begin riding again when I am 60.
Smiechowski: How was your birthday? (Hinault's recent.)
Hinault: It was great. The directors of the Tour de France, Olympic Games and many others were present.
Smiechowski: Do you think Lance can win number seven?
Hinault: It is possible. That is to say, if all things remain relatively equal to 2004. Things to consider are conditioning and the exit and entry of various riders.
Smiechowski: How are things going with the marketing of your "Hinault Frame?"
Hinault: Very well. The idea is to produce a high quality product.
Smiechowski: Which countries will do well in the Tours of the near future?
Hinault: Russia and Spain are possible favorites as well as China. Yes, that is right, I said China. China currently has two young women who are ranked world champions on the track. So, why not on the road?
Smichowski: How has cycling changed since you were a rider?
Hinault: I have the impression that cycling is no longer a game but rather an employment...a job.
Smiechowski: Do you miss riding the bike?
Hinualt: No, not at all. I have contacts with the Tour de France which keep me close to cycling.
Smiechowski: What is your opinion on the use of illegal drugs in cycling?
Hinault: Illegal drug use runs contrary to the image of health depicted by cycling. Distributors of these drugs must be prosecuted more harshly as they are ciminals.
Interview conducted in Dinan, France
November 28, 2004
A Few Facts About "The Badger" Bernard Hinault
Born November 14, 1954
"Nicknamed the Badger because of his fighting style when cornered."
Won 10 Grand Tour victories and five Tour de France victories ('78, '79, '81, '82, '85)
Won 28 stage victories in TdF, second only to Eddy Merckx. He and Merckx werre only cyclists to win all classifications of TdF.
This information above was gathered at the Hinault Rider Biography at CyclingHallofFame.com. Great photos there, too.
Great photos and info at The Bernard Hinault Achive (www.bernardhinault.com)
Other Photo Links:
Phil O'Connor's Bernard Hinault Photos
Bernard Hinault Pictorial
Photo with Armstrong, Merckx, and Indurian at Stage 20 TdF 2004 (click and scroll to bottom of navigation bar on left - on Graham Watson's site)
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