The 1985 Tour de France was the 72nd Tour de France….which took place from June 28th to July 21st over 4,109 km (2,553 mi) in 22 stages and a prologue….as France’s Bernard Hinault would attempt to equal the records of Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx….who had each won the Tour de France five times….for Hinault was unable to compete due to tendinitis in 1983….while finishing 2nd to Laurent Fignon In 1984….while being threatened by USA Greg LeMond….who ended in 3rd position on the final podium. In order to ensure the best support, Hinault’s La Vie Claire team recruited LeMond for the 1985 tour….when in return for his support, Hinault promised on television that he would support LeMond the following year in the 1986 Tour de France…..after which despite crashing on a fast descent and riding with black eyes due to his injuries….Hinault won and publicly again stated his promise to help LeMond the following year.
Hinault won the prologue….with LeMond in fifth place….then Hinault lost the lead in the next stage to Eric Vanderaerden because of time bonuses….but the relative margin to LeMond stayed the same. The La Vie Claire team showed that they were dominant by winning the team time trial in stage 3….as Vanderaerden kept his lead….but places 2 to 9 in the general classification were taken by riders from the La Vie Claire team….with Hinault in 2nd place and LeMond in 4th place. In the fourth stage, Kim Andersen from the La Vie Claire team was part of a successful breakaway….and thus becoming the new leader. LeMond collected some time bonuses in the fifth and sixth stage….which put him two seconds ahead of Hinault in the general classification. In the 6th stage, he initially finished 4th….but initial winner Vanderaerden and 2nd place Sean Kelly were relegated for not sprinting according to the rules….which made Francis Castaing the stage winner.
Hinault was a time trial expert….which he showed in the individual time trial of stage 8….as he beat all the other cyclists by more than two minutes….and became the new leader in the general classification. The next challenge for the general classification was in the first mountain stage, stage eleven….as Hinault attacked early in the stage together with Luis Herrera….who was already far behind in the general classification….but was interested in the mountains classification victory….when Hinault and Herrera worked together….as Hinault was only interested in the time gains….and Herrera was only interested in reaching the mountain tops first. Herrera won the stage with Hinault seven seconds back….while LeMond had to stay in the next group because team tactics did not allow him to attack his team mate.
Stage thirteen was run as an individual time trial….but Hinault was not so strong anymore and did not win the stage….but still won time on LeMond….who was now in second place in the general classification…. more than five minutes behind Hinault. In stage fourteen, Herrera attacked early again to win points for the mountain classification….as he was followed by a group of eight cyclists including LeMond but not Hinault….when Herrera won the stage….with the LeMond group reaching the finish one minute later….and one minute after that, the group with Hinault reached the finish….but less than one kilometer from the finish, Hinault and five other cyclists crashed. The rules of the Tour says that time losses due to crashes in the last kilometer are not counted….but a cyclists has to reach the finish on his own strengths. Hinault, still on the ground, was checked by the Tour doctor for some minutes….but was able to get back on his bike and finish the stage with his face all covered with blood. His nose was broken, and breathing was more difficult than normal.
Hinault survived the next two flat stages….but ran into problems in the 17th stage….with the Col d’Aspin, the Col du Tourmalet and Luz Ardiden. On the Tourmalet, Hinault had to let LeMond, Stephen Roche and Pedro Delgado go. Delgado then left on his own, with Roche chasing him, and LeMond staying close to Roche….who was the biggest threat in the general classification. LeMond felt that he was stronger….asking his team director Paul Koechli permission to attack. Koechli refused that, and told LeMond to stay with Roche. LeMond stayed with Roche while some other cyclists caught up and Herrera and Fabio Parra went clear of the group. At the end of the stage, LeMond finished almost three minutes behind Delgado with Hinault a further minute behind. In the general classification, Hinault remained in front, with LeMond 2 minutes 25 seconds behind. LeMond was frustrated after the stage, because he felt that he could have won the stage, and could have led the general classification for a few days. Hinault, who knew that his Tour victory was now certain only because LeMond had been waiting for him….again promising that in the next edition, he would help LeMond to win the Tour. In the remaining stages, Hinaults lead was not seriously challenged. LeMond was able to win the individual time trial in stage 21, his first Tour stage victory….thereby, coming in 2nd behind Hinault in the 1985 Tour de France.