The Biggest TdF Scandals: 1986—Hinault vs. LeMond

Forget about Lance Armstrong. These ten scandals rocked cycling to its core.

Greg Lemond racing to the win in the 1989 Tour de France.     Photo: BeWePa/Flickr

After three weeks of torture, only one man stands on the top step of the podium in Paris as the overall winner of the Tour de France. But no one gets there without the help of teammates. In 1986, Greg LeMond was poised to become the first (and to this day the only official) American champion.

To accomplish that feat, LeMond was counting on the assistance of his French teammate Bernard Hinault, whom LeMond had helped to victory the previous year. Hinault, still a great rider and a five-time winner of the Tour, repeatedly pledged that he and the entire La Vie Claire team were on board to help LeMond. However, Hinault’s actions out on the roads seemed to indicate otherwise. Hinault repeatedly attacked LeMond, forcing the American into the awkward position of chasing down the aggressive Frenchman.

On stage 18 of the ’86 Tour, one of the most memorable stages in history, with LeMond already wearing the leader’s yellow jersey, the putative teammates went mano-a-mano up the switchbacks of the legendary climb to L’Alpe d’Huez. Hinault could not crack LeMond and the two men crossed the finish line side by side. Five days later, LeMond rode into Paris the overall winner. Hinault finished second and then retired from pro racing.

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