Monday, June 23, 2008

The Badger

I have previously written about Le Blaireau during the Paris-Robaix and it seemed a logical place to continue after entering Brittany for my Grand Depart of delving into the richness and glory days of Tours gone by. He is one of the best that France had on display during this canter around the French counties and by far the cream to settle on the top of Brittany. Le Blaireau is the French word for badger due to his tenacity as a ride although he insist's that the name is from boyhood like we use the names buddy and mate. Either way I think the first meaning stuck firmer as was evident before he even started riding the Tour. He had been advised against entering the Tour of '77 by Guimard, his directeur sportif for the Gitane so that he could gain more experience. He took the advice a little to the extreme when entering one of the mountain stages of that years Dauphiné Libéré. He came off his bike on one of the slippery descents in quite spectacular fashion. He jumped back on his bike and went on to win the race.

Arogance and the badger were never far apart, I guess a man who wins five Tours has somewhat of a right to be arogant. He was the strength of the peleton orchestrating fellow riders to his iron will. If a stage was difficult the next day he was able to hold the group back. Any sign of imputence from a commetitor was followed by a harsh comeback from Hinault. He would rip the rider to pieces with his strength, in other words he was not to be messed with. As you can see in the photo he rode to his final tour victory with a black eye received in a crash. It is this determination that makes a great rider and something that I try to keep in mind on each ride when thinking about giving up.

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