If you didn’t get to watch the latest ESPN 30 for 30 film, Slaying the Badger, about the battle between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault in the 1986 Tour de France, check it out when it’s replayed. It’s fascinating. As someone who was a teenager during the LeMond victories, I have some fuzzy memories of those and it was good to fill in the blanks.
For example, I thought for sure that LeMond had won a Tour on a time trial on the final day, but could never figure out how that happened when the final day is traditionally just a celebration day into Paris, but seeing the bit about winning the 89 Tour by 8 seconds showed that my memory was correct, that year the ride into Paris was a time trial!
Frankly, since LeMond is now officially the only American to ever win the Tour, it’s nice to see him get his due.
However, there was one thing about the film that made me furrow my brow a bit. The producers and the cyclists being interviewed clearly state that 1992 was the start of widespread doping in the world of cycling. That puts us right at the beginning of 5 straight Tour wins by Miguel Indurain. As far as I know, his victories have not been called into question.
Looking at the winners list in Wikipedia you can clearly see where the questionable, and even stripped, Tour wins start, 1996.
So the question is, should we consider Indurain part of the doping era, or a cyclist that was so dominant that even others using performance enhancing drugs couldn’t beat him?