Following the success of Bernard Hinault in the1985 Tour de France….the La Vie Claire team was heavily favored in 1986….as Hinault had promised to return Greg LeMond’s support to win the 1985 Tour…. however, continuing attacks cast doubt on Hinault’s sincerity….when he claimed that his tactics were simply to wear down LeMond’s opponents….and that he ultimately knew that LeMond would be the winner because of time losses earlier in the race…..but, regardless of his true motives…..this tactic worked well….and rivals Laurent Fignon of Système U and Carrera Jeans–Vagabond’s Urs Zimmermann were put on the defensive from the first day…..as Fignon quit the race due to injuries aggravated by stress.
The ascent of the legendary Alpe d’Huez gave spectators a spectacular stage in which Hinault made a risky solo attack to demoralize the opposition….to be matched only by LeMond at the top. In a gesture of respect, the two riders reached the top hand-in-hand….beaming with smiles….as LeMond let Hinault finish first to claim the stage. However, within hours LeMond and Hinault were interviewed together on joint television….where Hinault stated that the race was not over….and seemingly betraying his teammate LeMond…..as Hinault went on to say that they would let the final time trial determine the winner.
The race was won by LeMond….which was the first from an English-speaking country….with a winning margin of three minutes and ten seconds over Hinault…..while SUI Urs Zimmermann completed the podium some ten minutes and 54 seconds down on LeMond.
In the race’s other classifications….Hinault won the mountains classification….while Panasonic–Merckx–Agu rider Eric Vanderaerden won the points classification…..as La Vie Claire’s Andrew Hampsten won the young rider classification….with La Vie Claire finishing at the head of the team classification by one hour 51 minutes….after placing four riders inside the final overall top ten placings.