Bernard Hinault, one of the greatest cyclists of all time, knew how to make an exit. The legendary French rider always said he would retire at the age of 32, and he did just that, bowing out after a season which saw him pass the Tour de France gauntlet to his American teammate, Greg LeMond. LeMond took his first of three tour wins that year, with Hinault settling for second as well as the mountains jersey.
The Brittany native had an incredible career. He turned pro in 1975, riding for the Gitane-Campagnolo team, which would morph into Renault–Elf–Gitane. That team would be a powerhouse of cycling, with Hinault mentoring Laurent Fignon and LeMond. In 1985, Hinault formed the nLa Vie Claire team, where Look clipless pedals would be introduced to the world in that year’s Tour.
Hinault would also win the Giro three times, the Vuelta twice, the worlds, and several classics including Giro di Lombardia, Paris–Roubaix, La Flèche Wallonne, Gent–Wevelgem and
Amstel Gold Race.
In November of 1986, there was a celebration “race” for Hinault in Quessoy, France. 15,000 people watched the event, as well as a concert and fireworks.
Hinault finished first, surrounded by his teammates and peers. You can watch the finish below, as the champion is swamped by his supporters in his last pro bike race ever and symbolically hangs up his bike.
Un 14-Nov nació y colgó la bicicleta el 2º mejor de todos los tiempos: Bernard Hinault. Como el crack que es hizo literal la expresión de colgar. ? David Dugué: pic.twitter.com/zkA0xTVckc
— Pedal Vintage (@PedalVintage) November 14, 2021