Slaying the Badger

Slaying the Badger ★★★★

This documentary may be biased in LeMond's favour but it's done entertainingly so. It has an eye for knowing where the drama is - LeMond, the plucky American, pitting up against the wily Frenchman, Bernard Hinault - his own team-mate, a 5 time Tour de France winner. When it gets to the meat of the story (it takes a bit of time to get there), we just see the scope of LeMond's paranoia, Hinault's reflections and the rather shady team boss who likes to think "there are no leaders in this team" in 1986. And of course, Bernard 'Match Fixing' Tapie.

LeMond's paranoia is the selling point and while somewhat comical, I can fully believe his line of reasoning - who wouldn't? - when the likes of Hinault are playing the tactical mind games to see how he would cope even when he's right next to him talking on TV. There's a sort of malicious glee that Hinault takes in putting forward his side of the story. I almost feel like he knows he's going to be painted as the bad guy by this ESPN broadcast and he doesn't care. The Tour de France will put you through hell, and Hinault knows this. Add in some stock footage of the race and seeing Greg's wife Kathy (in some ridiculous 80s hairstyles) and the how the tension and drama is perfectly orchestrated feels like an ESPN documentary should.

It might sound negative to some but it's a sheer joy to watch and the often shown scenery of some of the stages of the Tour de France is just sheer magic on screen (whatever way you watch it). And while the ghost of Lance Armstrong's doping seems to hover over the end of it, it should not take away from the achievements that LeMond did. He was after all a trailblazer.

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