Sympathy For The Badger

Apr 27 2010

I’m not a petty man. I disagree with Bernard Hinault on a number of issues, but I’ve still got a tremendous amount of respect for the former rider, who, to quote another blogger, has been “taking people to the pain cave since 1977“.

So it’s nice to finally find some common ground with the Breton—even if it is fleeting and a bit less emphatic. Hinault has said (among other sweeping, uncompromising statements) that Contador can hand over five minutes to his rivals before the Alps and still win the Tour.

I’m not sure I’d go that far, but I would like to double-down on my statements from earlier this year that Astana is a better team than they’ve been given credit for. This classics season, Contador’s potential TdF domestiques chalked up wins in two fairly brutal one-day contests against top-flight competition—and let’s not forget the reign champ still has the ’06 “winner” by his side as well.

While Armstrong’s RadioShack squad didn’t exactly perform poorly, representing the sole Belgian win on the cobbles and taking a week-long stage race against some Tour-level opponents, Armstrong himself has been a bit of a dud (you can check out Hinault’s interview for the details).

Now we all know that through immaculate (or, as some have suggested, extremely maculate) preparation, Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel always come to the Tour with their A-Games prepared, and despite a lackluster spring, there’s still no reason to assume that 2010 will be any different.

But I do think, after Astana’s performance this spring, we can safely take another potential weapon out of the seven-time Tour champ’s quiver.

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14 Responses to “Sympathy For The Badger”

  1. David 27 April 2010 at 9:42 pm #

    He’s such a gracious champion … not.

    Ever since his tour was invaded by North Americans he’s become bitter.

    Sometimes the sign of a champ is knowing when to shut up.

    Then I again … I never won the tour … so I guess I’ll just shut up. 😉

    I still think he shot Lemond. And gave Armstrong cancer.

  2. cosmo 27 April 2010 at 10:13 pm #

    He might have shot Lemond. But as far as I can tell, young, fat, cancer-free Lance was well-liked among the host nation. Even got signed by a French team.

    Hinault is certainly an acquired taste. But I like that he still swings a frame pump in a sport awash in politics, tact and nuance. And he still throws down on protesters/imposters:

  3. michael 27 April 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    What ya see is what ya get… Dude is badass to the core. Bernard Hinault is fire and drive without a second guess. He’s the grit we all recognize and wish we’d show more of. Of course he’s not on point all the time…. but he fights for his own stand…. Much respect!

  4. Tom 27 April 2010 at 11:39 pm #

    I love the Badger.

    I always lol at the AC haters/LA fanboys that maintain such a double standard in regards to AC’s supposed “lack of respect” for the great tour champion, LA. Do they forget the LA/ Badger feud? Calling Hinault a wanker isn’t very respectful…

  5. rainbow 28 April 2010 at 5:25 am #

    Shot David! you overlooked that he has sabotaged every other French cyclists potential in order to extend his own legacy!.

  6. David 28 April 2010 at 11:17 am #

    Ha, yeah, there is that.

    Personally, I like a little colour in an athlete. I think this year’s TdF won’t be boring. Should make for an interesting podium.

    Someone in another forum mentioned that while AC and LA had no love last year, with will Vino and AC do … hmmm.

    Again, an interesting season.

    And Badger’s aren’t known to be meek, right. 😉

  7. Mark 28 April 2010 at 12:40 pm #

    Lots of Bertsville in this year’s tour. There’s like 23 big climbs with several mountain top finishes. He won the freaking TT last year so there’s that answer. Who else can climb and TT? Wiggo I suppose but that’s a different level…or maybe I should say sublevel. Volde’s TTs of late really suck at least in terms of winning the TDF. Some say… Volde will be better this year, which may or max not be true, but it’s likely Bert will be better too and has yet to even hit his max. Some get all excided that Bert does not have a team riding for him this year, but did he have a team last year? Me thinks not. I’ve got Bert by 5 min. without even going deep. If nothing changes he’ll win more Grand Tours than any other rider.

    Bert = Alberto
    Volde = Lord Voldemort = Lance Armstrong

  8. Sebastian 28 April 2010 at 3:51 pm #

    I think I began to enjoy Hinault’s antics around the time that Trek dumped Lemond. Until then I had always considered him and Armstrong kind of the same person inside; then I realized that playing who’s-your-daddy with a teammate is infinitely more endearing than sending your lawyers after people.

  9. rainbow 28 April 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    OH and David we’ve overlooked the most compelling evidence yet!. The protester on the TDF stage was French!, Bernard obviously must have mistaken him for a rider?

  10. Oliver 28 April 2010 at 9:28 pm #

    Bernard Hinault speaks the truth to the Armstrong media spin machine, and that alone makes him standout from the rest of the sycophantic would be commentators out there….
    Hinault says aloud what many think about Lance and doesn’t back down!– thank god he’s around. Otherwise the silence would be deafening.

  11. Big Mikey 29 April 2010 at 10:36 am #

    Good post. But I’m not convinced that it’s the best riders on a team that make it a better TdF squad to support a GC contender. The old Postal/Discovery teams weren’t full of the best riders (outside of the top domestiques), but had guys that could pull and pull and gave zero thought to individual glory. The defining trait of those teams was it singlemindedness.

    The LA/AC rivalry in the tour will be a letdown. Astana has shown some team strength, and as long as nothing happens to injure/derail AC up to or in the tour, he’s the clear favorite. LA has shown NOTHING this year. It’s not his style to play possum, either.

    Hinault is a force of nature. Wild, unpredictable and dangerous. The ego unchecked. But he’s a lot of fun to watch. Would have been cool to be around when he was racing.

  12. Geoff 17 April 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Le patron, what more can you say, nowadays riders pick their events, Hinault like Merckx could win any race anytime. Today riders either go for cobbled claassicis or LBL or the Grand Tours. In the good old days they raced to win the whole season

  13. Osteo 8 July 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    Le Badger! What a great name. Badger by name Badger by nature. Pain cave gate keeper!

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