June 16, 2021

“One or two glasses the day before a race, it was the best sleeping pills”

Bernard Hinault is a legend of French cycling – 250 victories to his name, including five Tours de France, the first in 1978. The “Blaireau”, as he was nicknamed, is also a wine lover. On May 15, he returned to the traces of his exploits, in Gironde, where he had traveled like an arrow, many years before, the 59 kilometers of a time trial between Sainte-Foy-la-Grande and Saint Emilion. This time, he came on his two feet in Bordeaux to be inducted peer of the jurade of Saint-Emilion, one of the oldest wine brotherhoods in France.

After a sports career which stretched from 1975 to 1986, Bernard Hinault held for twenty years, with his wife, a cattle farm in Brittany, in Calorguen (Côtes-d’Armor). At 66, in great shape, the former cyclist continues to take care of public relations for the Tour de France, including the 108e edition should start on June 26 from Brest, on its Breton lands. This activity gives him time to discover French geography in a more relaxed way, in particular thanks to the wines he likes.

How did you find yourself a peer of Saint-Emilion?

Saint-Emilion, if the pandemic leaves us alone, will be the arrival of the twentieth stage of the Tour de France this year. It will take place on July 17th. A quick 31-kilometer time trial from Libourne. It was by spotting the route that I got to know some figures of the town. During the weekend of my induction, I was able to visit with my wife some châteaux of the Saint-Emilion appellation that I did not know, such as Angélus, La Clide, Grand Corbin-Despagne and Pavie.

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Thanks to the Tour de France, I had the chance to discover the whole geography of the country, as a rider, then a follower. But when I was a runner, I went too fast, and I had other things to watch out for in order to appreciate its riches! Since my retirement as a cyclist, I have been inducted by a few wine brotherhoods. I like their colorful costumes. It’s a change from the yellow jersey, my favorite! And then, it is always an emotion to receive a diploma, a consecration, in an environment which is not mine.

What struck you the most during your induction?

Meeting people in love with their work, and who know how to talk about it, it’s great. The winegrowers are whole people, like me. They are totally involved in their vines. And then I found that they got along well with each other. As in the bicycle, we feel a brotherhood. I also appreciated the way in which the new generations are welcomed. We visited Château La Clide, in Saint-Emilion, taken over by a young man. I felt he was supported by the older ones.

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