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on 15 June 2011
Absolutely brilliant retelling of the events surrounding the 1986 Tour de France by Richard Moore. This was the first Tour broadcast on British TV by Channel 4 and as it was also my first Tour it brought back many many great memories.

Moore tries to unravel the events surrounding Lemond's victory and whether or not his team mate, Hinault (the badger) was riding against him to gain victory for himself and win an unprecedented sixth victory. Claim and counter claim from our two protagonists ensure that the `truth' will never be known, however, by interviewing many of the major players of the 1986 Tour, Moore manages to add further intrigue and controversy to an already legendary tale.

Both Lemond and Hinault are brilliant characters (Hinault is simply a mad Frenchman - check out when he was driving and texting) and I found it difficult to take sides. As a result, for me, the book had the ideal ending.

Richard Moore has played a blinder with this story and proved that his biography of Robert Millar was no fluke.

I would recommend `Slaying the Badger' not just to fans of cycling and the Tour de France, but to any fan of sporting drama! A delightful read. Thank you Richard.
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on 3 June 2011
I don't think I'm spoiling anyone's read when I say that LeMond comes out on top in this one (otherwise it would only be "attempted slaying" of said Badger, aka Bernard Hinault), but what a fantastic story of two emulous teammates vying for the top prize in such a storied and brutal sport.

I was eager to get my hands on a copy when I saw this become available to pre-order. Firstly, as a cycling fan it represents welcome respite from the current doping scandals in which the sport is embroiled. While you may, after reading the book (especially the first few paragraphs), feel that it wasn't exactly a "clean" race, I would much rather read about tactical intrigue and sub-plots than any pharmaceutical underhandedness.

Secondly, having enjoyed his first couple of books, I was keen to read more from Moore given the entertaining and well informed style through which he delivers a story. Having said that, don't just take the word of a self-professed fan; I think the awards and critical acclaim he has received to date make a good case for reading his books.

There are already plenty of detailed professional reviews which dissect the whole book and provide a synopsis of virtually the entire story. However, having read many of the reviews while waiting for my copy to arrive I would advise against reading them and just get stuck into the book itself. Given that the story played out some 25 years ago, even those who followed the race at the time will have forgotten a lot of the detail. To approach the book fresh allows you to re-live it but with the added benefit of the thoroughly researched commentary provided by Moore as well as the thoughts and views of the protagonists themselves.

Finally (and at the risk of sounding patronising) for those that don't necessarily follow cycling, it is written in a style that doesn't assume a detailed knowledge and understanding of the sport. In fact, I would say it is a good case-study through which to introduce yourself to this (once?) magnificent sport.
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on 19 June 2011
Richard Moore is the perfect writer to tell the tale of the 1986 Tour de France and the rivalry between Bernard Hinault and Greg Le Mond. His passion and knowledge of cycling shine through as they did in the other two books by him that I have read, In Search of Robert Millar: Unravelling the Mystery Surrounding Britain's Most Successful Tour de France Cyclist: Unravelling the Mystery Surrounding Britain's Most Successful Tour De France Cyclist and Heroes, Villains and Velodromes: Chris Hoy and Britain's Track Cycling Revolution but it is ability to construct a narrative and the fluid style of his writing that makes him stand so tall in the ranks of modern sports writers. The story of this epic race is told through the words of people who were there. Le Mond and Hinault themselves as well as directeur sportives and fellow riders. Moore introduces us to all the players, giving us a background to each of their perspectives and an idea of their personalities and then tells to unfolding story through their words so that you finish the book feeling like you have been there in the heart of the race yourself. It reads like a gripping novel so well is it constructed. As I write this we're 2 weeks away from the 2011 Tour de France and this is a book I would strongly advise you read as to set your pulse racing in anticipation of this year's race.
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on 14 June 2011
Having enjoyed Richard Moore's fascinating biography of Robert Millar, I was excited to see he had again turned his pen towards obsessive characters in this classic period of cycling history. Not only is the book superbly written, but the apparent level of research he has made into his subjects is staggering. Combine this with Moore's genuine insight into the mind of sportsmen, and you have a book that will delight any reader, while still providing surprises for the best-informed sports fans. Superb.
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on 3 September 2013
I am surprised (and slightly skeptical) at all the gushing reviews. This book was okay but nothing more. It takes an interesting moment in cycling history and turns it into a plodding tale that is poorly edited. Only in the last 70 or so pages when we get to the 1986 Tour does the story take off; before that the pace is leaden.

The editing is poor with anecdotes and stories repeated within pages of each other. The way Moore writes about Shelly Verses is illustrative - she is introduced as the soigneur of 7-Eleven. A few chapters later he comes back to Verses and repeats much of the earlier chapter about her being the only female soigneur in the peloton. Moore does this a lot - providing the same details multiple times.

The opening chapters about meeting with Hinault, LeMond and Kochli are very dull. The interviews also have little bearing on the rest of the book. For instance, for someone who was meant to have revolutionsed cycling, very little detail is given as to how Kochli actually impacted results or his methodology. At the end Kochli takes pride from the La Vie Claire results in 1986, yet it's probably fair to say Kochli made very little if any difference - La Vie Claire simply had the top two riders in the peloton and another 2-3 top riders. It is not clear what Kochli did as directeur sportif, indeed, it appears he was too weak to stand up to Hinault and had he been a better directeur sportif would have sorted the leadership squabble, but this is never addressed.

The writing is also jumbled with Moore jumping around timeframes without explanation. One minute we are at a race in 1982, then back to 1979, then again in 1982, then in 1976 etc without any reason, cohesion or narrative flow.

Hinault comes across as an arrogant, bullying pig. Equally, LeMond comes across as suprisingly weak. I understand that he was being bullied and intimidated by Hinault and everyone was out to get him, but the fact is Hinault rode with much more flair and panache and when it mattered, LeMond faltered or crashed. LeMond, in reality, got lucky that Hinault was a victim of his own hubris. There is never a moment in the 1986 Tour when LeMond stamped his authority and that is a shame.

I am surprised that Moore does not remark on the similarity with the 2009 Tour when the arrogant, bullying pig Armstrong came back to the race ostensibly to promote his charity and ride for team leader Contador, and then spent the race attacking him on the road and in the press / social media. He turned the team against Contador and used it to put time into Contador when the race split in the wind, mocked Contador's inexperience to the media and acted in many ways similar to Hinault in 1986.

I am also surprised that so little is mentioned of LeMond's post-Tour life, particularly his involvement in bike manufacturing, his association with Trek and the apology Trek forced him to make about doping, Michele Ferrari and Armstrong.

Overall, had this book been closely edited and reduced to half its length, it would have been a much better book. As it is, it is an interesting, but frustrating, read about a great edition of the Tour.
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on 21 July 2011
Richard Moore's Slaying the Badger seems to have gained universal praise and so it's with some trepidation that I offer a dissenting opinion. Don't get me wrong: the story of the 1986 Tour is a fascinating one. I'm just not sure that this book tells it in a fascinating way.

I should probably make clear at the outset that I work as a writer and editor. That means that I have a horrible tendency to mentally edit books as I read them. Often, there are things which irritate me which I'm sure would bother no-one else. But in other instances there are problems with the language so fundamental that I'm sure they bother people regardless of whether they are paid to spot misplaced apostrophes. This is one of those instances.

A big part of the problem for me is the tendency to cram far too many ideas into one sentence. Sometimes this simply leads to clumsy phrasing: "Laurent Fignon, it becomes clear whenever the road begins to rise, is, as his performance in the time trial in Nantes had suggested, finished."

In others, it leads to sentences which resemble paragraphs and which took me several read-throughs to understand: "And here LeMond, as he so often does, segues quickly into an anecdote that at first seems to veer off at a tangent to the discussion we've just been having, only to home back in on the point, and to reveal something fundamental, in this case shedding light on Köchli's intransigence, which, with someone as dizzily hyperactive as LeMond, must surely have been the most significant barrier to a flourishing professional relationship forming between the two." Admittedly, that is the worst example I found of a sentence which really should have been broken up. But it wasn't the only one. Often dashes are used to try to separate ideas, but that just leads to awkward passages such as these: "His eldest son, Geoffrey - a baby during the 1986 Tour - had taken up the sport, and LeMond - just like his father had done in 1975 in Montana - began cycling regularly with him. In 2007 father and son travelled to France to ride L'Étape du Tour - a stage of the Tour de France - together." The often-awkward phrasing meant that too often I found reading this book very hard work indeed.

In my opinion, the author has also made strange choices in how he tells the story. My Kindle version reveals that the description of the 1986 Tour doesn't start until more than 60 percent of the way into the book. While the background is undoubtedly of relevance, it did leave me feeling that the description of the race itself was greatly rushed. I can't help but wonder how much better the book would have been if each chapter were focused on each stage of the race, with flashbacks to relevant background. I also fear the tendency to directly quote and cite sources (typically books, television interviews, and interviews conducted by the author himself) detracts from the drama of the story. Too often I felt like I was reading an academic tome. Much better, surely, would have been to weave this information directly into the text. Very little seems to have been paraphrased, and I often found this jarring.

As I say, there's no doubt that I'm a linguistic nitpicker and that my enjoyment of Slaying the Badger was considerably marred as a result. But I do fear that there are some issues so dramatic that they will affect any reader's enjoyment. The 1986 Tour makes for a brilliant book. But it saddens me to say I don't think that book has been written yet.
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on 12 August 2013
I still remember watching this tour and wondering what would happen, I always thought that Bernard was playing a game, hoping that Greg would crack so he could claim the win and not look like he had gone back on his promise. I was never comfortable with Greg going on about Bernard 'owing' him a tour, the crash was not really Bernard's fault as such, so it would normally be wrong to capitalise on a teammates misfortune?
If this means anything to you and if this sort of intrigue floats your boat then this is the book for you! It was great for me to be reminded of '80s cycling and read about what happened behind the scenes. If this happened before my time and I did not have an interest in this period of cycling history I am not so sure I would have enjoyed it so much. But Bernard Hinault is a legend, knowing about him and his style? behaviour? antics? is a must if you are interested in cycling history. Greg Lemond is no less a legend and is also an interesting character. Great stories. This is why I have rated it highly.
I think anyone who is interested in cycling and what goes on behind the scenes would enjoy this book. But I would suggest that anyone who does not already know a bit about the characters would not find the book so interesting, it is quite in depth and focuses on a very specific point; what was Hinault playing at? I suspect it depends on which rider is your favourite!
Enjoy!
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on 7 March 2014
Richard Moore has done a great job of telling the story of LeMond and Hinault. The story flows well considering the narrative moves between interviews with the two riders and other participants in those great years of cycling that were the 80s. Sean Kelly, Robert Millar,Andy Hampsten,Laurent Fignon to name some of the greats but the clash of character between Hinault and LeMond is the stuff of legend.
Don't think we'll ever see cycle racing like this again ,today it's all technical and ear radios. We need this passion.
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on 17 October 2011
It's a bit of a cliche, but cycle racing is a lot more than just pedaling a bike faster than the other bloke. This book gives a good insight to the political maneuvering, intrigue and egos in professional cycling. It is epic, it's more than just racing, it is the whole of life seen in the cycling bubble.
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VINE VOICEon 26 November 2012
I came to this book having read and throughly enjoyed Richard Moore's biography of Robert Millar. Moore is a very good writer with in depth appreciation of road racing. His compiles this story following interviews with both Hinalut and Lemond themselves, alongside various other riders, directeurs and soigneurs. The tale that emerges is very thorough. He tells the story of the two riders prior to the tour of '86, then takes us through each stage and its twists and turns. I can still recall watching the two riders together at the finish of Alpe D'uez. I had always thought that was the climax to the story, but more was to unfold.

It's the story of Hinault that fascinates most. Clearly he had a great deal of fun, toying with Lemond and the journalists. I'm sure he would have won if he could, but it wasn't to be.
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