“it is part of the national heritage of sport”
Is it in the steep hill of Langueux which climbed to the college of his childhood, in Saint-Brieuc, that Bernard Hinault began to carve in the rock costarmorican the future champion that he was going to become? “I did four years of running before cycling. It broke my heart! », responds the five-time winner of the Tour de France to one of the spectators of the Ouest-France space, in Rennes. Thursday October 6, the one who outclassed French cycling between the mid-70s and the mid-80s, came to meet the public on the occasion of the release in bookstores of the first opus of the collection. Extensionspublished by Ouest-France, which is entirely devoted to him (1).
Read also: Bernard Hinault as you have never read him, on Prolongation and in bookstores
“Bernard Hinault is part of the national heritage of sportexplains Vincent Côté, editor-in-chief for sports at Ouest-France. It was necessary to tell the life of a champion by going beyond his sporting career, his life as a farmer, as a grandfather, as a man passionate about several things… »
Read also: « He’s a rare man »: Bernard Hinault or the champion who inspires art
The “Badger” as he is nicknamed – « but everyone was called that in the peloton »he corrects – does he consider himself a legend of his sport? « It’s the people who say it. I am a human being with physical abilities. Bernard Hinault does not want to play in the court of false modesty. He assumes a talent nourished by work and an unfailing will. “S If you don’t believe it, you don’t win. I don’t come to participate, I come to win. Then we see the result…”
So the race instructions given in the headsets, it’s really not his thing. “When you wear a jersey, you go all the way. Atria, I have always been against. Sports directors, they play video game consoles! ». His mythical victory in Liège, in 1980, under the snow, illustrates what it means to grit your teeth and hold on. “I could have done like the others, given up. Today the race would not have taken place he believes. But I always said, « You don’t have to leave » . After the first turn of the crankset, it is too late to downshift, the cyclist goes to the end of the road.
Pro cycling in France today, « it’s almost a retirement home »
Bernard Hinault acknowledges having « re-enrolled » cycling in his July diary. On the Tour de France, « For two or three years, it’s been more exciting, with runners who have character », he assures. A succession that he sees in particular with the French Julian Alaphilippe or the Slovenian Tadej Pogačar. Would he like to form a team? “There are too many teams in France, not enough riders. They are well paid but they are not asked for results. Life is good, it’s almost a retirement home ». Bernard Hinault expects cyclists to be hungry: feet on the pedals, head on their shoulders and the appetite of an ogre until the finish line.
(1) Hinault at Éditions Ouest-France, “Prolongation” collection. 112 pages. €19.90. National release in bookstores on September 9, 2022.