La Vie Claire

Last updated
La Vie Claire
Team information
Founded1984 (1984)
Discipline(s) Road
Key personnel
General manager Bernard Tapie
Team name history
La Vie Claire-Terraillon
La Vie Claire-Radar
Toshiba-La Vie Claire
La Vie Claire jersey La-vie-claire-jersey-by-santini-for-prendas.jpg
La Vie Claire jersey

La Vie Claire was a professional road bicycle racing team named after its chief sponsor La Vie Claire, a chain of health food stores.



The La Vie Claire team was created in 1984 by Bernard Tapie and directed by Paul Köechli. The team included five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault, and three-time winner, Greg LeMond, as well as Andrew Hampsten and the Canadian Steve Bauer. With Hinault winning the Tour in 1985, and LeMond winning in 1986, plus winning the team trophy both years, La Vie Claire cemented their place in cycling team history. The team formed after Bernard Hinault had a dispute with his former directeur sportif Cyrille Guimard of Renault-Elf-Gitane with whom Hinault had won four editions of the Tour de France. After Hinault's teammate Laurent Fignon won the 1983 Tour de France while Hinault was injured, Fignon became the designated leader of the team. Hinault formed the La Vie Claire team with Tapie and Koechli and steadily built up his form. During the 1984 Tour de France, Renault-Elf-Gitane dominated the race with 8 stage wins including the Team time trial as well as wearing the yellow jersey from the 5th stage onward with Vincent Barteau and Laurent Fignon. [1] Fignon won the Tour by over ten minutes from Hinault. In addition with World Champion Greg LeMond the Renault team also finished third overall in that Tour and LeMond won the Young rider's jersey. After this dominance by the Renault-Elf-Gitane team, Tapie and Hinault approached Greg LeMond after the 1984 Tour with a one-million dollar contract offer - the first in cycling history - to leave Renault-Elf-Gitane and join Hinault at La Vie Claire. LeMond accepted and forever changed the salary structure in bicycle racing. With Hinault and LeMond the team won the 1985 and the 1986 Tour de France. At the end of 1986, Hinault retired and in the spring of 1987 LeMond was injured in a hunting accident. [2] Hampsten who had finished fourth in the 1986 Tour de France and as best young rider left the team at the end of 1986. Jean-François Bernard was seen by some as a successor to Hinault in stage races and became the leader of the team. Bernard led the general classification during the 1987 Tour de France and finished third overall, and led the general classification during the 1988 Giro d'Italia but then never regained the form to perform in the grand tours for the team. The team itself was undergoing further changes - LeMond and Bauer left the team at the end of 1987 and Koechli and Tapie stopped directing the team in 1988 and 1989. During the latter years of the team, Laurent Jalabert and Tony Rominger were team leaders and earned success for the team.


The La Vie Claire colors (red, yellow, blue and gray) were based on the artwork of Piet Mondrian, giving them a unique appearance in the peloton during the 80s Tours de France. The La Vie Claire jersey, originally designed by Benetton, went through at least five major revisions between 1984-1988 as the team partnered different sponsors (Radar, Wonder, Toshiba, LOOK (and Red Zinger and Celestial Seasonings when racing on American soil)). The design (sleeves: yellow and grey; chest: pattern of rectangles in different sizes and colors) is considered one of the most memorable jersey designs in cycling. Manufactured by Santini of Italy, it is still very popular with cycling fans, topping a poll in 2018. [3] From 1987, Toshiba became the main sponsor of the team and from 1988 onwards La Vie Claire withdrew their sponsorship. The jersey was redesigned in 1990. [4] The Toshiba team continued until the end of the 1991 season.


Also strongly associated with La Vie Claire was the French company LOOK, which made the first clipless pedals, and which was owned by Tapie at that time. [5]

La Vie Claire was among the first to use carbon fiber frames in the Tour de France. The team switched in 1986 from their previous supplier, Hinault, to carbon fiber frames and forks by TVT. In 1989 the team rode a carbon-fiber frame/fork manufactured by LOOK and fitted with titanium components. In the same year, the team began to use heart rate monitors in training and racing, a technology that the traditional training culture in cycling at first resisted.

Intra-team rivalry

In the 1985 Tour de France, Hinault was considered the leader of the team, which would work for him to win the Tour for a record-tying fifth time. But after dominating the first two-thirds of the race, on stage 14 Hinault crashed in Saint-Étienne and broke his nose. Though he continued, his injury and subsequent bronchitis caused him to be weakened thereafter.

On stage 17 LeMond and a rival rider, Stephen Roche, were far ahead of the pack when the team boss Bernard Tapie and coach Paul Koechli asked him to slow down, saying that Hinault was 45 seconds behind. LeMond refrained from attacking and waited at the stage's finish where he realized he'd been misled; Hinault was in fact more than three minutes behind. Hinault went on to win that year's Tour by 1 minute 42 seconds; in return for his assistance, LeMond was assured by Hinault that he would support LeMond the following year.

In the following year's Tour, Hinault surprised LeMond by riding an aggressive race, going on individual attacks, which he insisted was to deter and demoralize their mutual rivals. He claimed his tactics were to wear down LeMond's (and his) opponents and that he knew that LeMond would win because of time losses earlier in the race. However, LeMond saw this as a betrayal and accused Hinault of reneging on his promise. In LeMond's words, "He totally tried screwing me. But I don't blame him." As the 1986 Tour wore on, loyalties among LeMond and Hinault's teammates split along national lines, with the Americans and British supporting LeMond and the French and Belgians backing Hinault.[ citation needed ] Andrew Hampsten said of the 1986 Tour: "It was rotten being on the team... Steve Bauer and I had to chase down Hinault on the stage into Saint-Étienne. That really sucked." The competition, abandoned promises, and high stakes in the LeMond-Hinault controversy makes it one of the most public and bitter rivalries between teammates in cycling history. Their story was chronicled in the book Slaying the Badger by Richard Moore.

Major wins

Overall Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana, Bruno Cornillet
Stage 1, Bruno Cornillet
Stage 5, Bernard Hinault
Stage 3 Tour de Romandie, Bernard Vallet
Prologue Tour de France, Bernard Hinault
Callac criterium, Bernard Hinault
Lamballe criterium, Bernard Hinault
's-Heerenhoek criterium, Bernard Hinault
Clasica San Sebastian, Niki Rüttimann
Stages 4 & 5 Tour de l'Avenir, Benno Wiss
Stage 12 Tour de l'Avenir, Marc Gomez
Grand Prix des Nations, Bernard Hinault
Trofeo Baracchi, Bernard Hinault
Giro del Piemonte, Christian Jourdan
Giro di Lombardia, Bernard Hinault
Aix-en-Provence, Steve Bauer
Stage 2 Critérium International, Charly Berard
Jersey pink.svg Overall Giro d'Italia, Bernard Hinault
Stage 12, Bernard Hinault
Stage 1 Tour de Suisse, Guido Winterberg
Stage 2 Tour de Suisse, Charly Berard
Stage 5a Tour de Suisse, Jean-François Bernard
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour de France, Bernard Hinault
Jersey combined.svg Combination classification, Greg LeMond
Prologue & Stage 8, Bernard Hinault
Stage 3 TTT
Stage 21, Greg LeMond
Lamballe, Bernard Hinault
Embrach, Benno Wiss
Stage 2 Post Danmark Rundt, Kim Andersen
Stage 4 Post Danmark Rundt, Benno Wiss
Stage 2 Paris - Bourges, Bruno Cornillet
Châteaulin, Bernard Hinault
Jersey white.svg Young rider classification Tour de l'Avenir, Bruno Cornillet
Stage 4 TTT
Stage 13, Benno Wiss
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Étoile de Bessèges, Niki Rüttimann
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour Méditerranéen, Jean-François Bernard
Stage 5a, Jean-François Bernard
Overall Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana, Bernard Hinault
Stage 4a, Greg LeMond
Pogny, Bernard Hinault
Prologue & Stage 5b Tour de Romandie, Jean-François Bernard
Stage 5 Giro d'Italia, Greg LeMond
Stage 7 Clásico RCN, Bernard Hinault
Prologue Critérium du Dauphiné, Jean-François Bernard
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour de Suisse, Andrew Hampsten
Prologue, Andrew Hampsten
Stage 8, Guido Winterberg
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour de France, Greg LeMond
Jersey polkadot.svg Mountains classification, Bernard Hinault
Jersey white.svg Young rider classification, Andrew Hampsten
Stages 9, 18 & 20, Bernard Hinault
Stage 13, Greg LeMond
Stage 14, Niki Rüttimann
Stage 16, Jean-François Bernard
Callac, Bernard Hinault
Stiphout, Greg LeMond
Chateau-Chinon-Ville, Bernard Hinault
Stage 2 Tour of Ireland, Steve Bauer
Stage 5 Vuelta a Andalucía, Andreas Kappes
Stage 4 Paris–Nice, Jean-François Bernard
Stage 1 Critérium International: Steve Bauer
Flèche Wallonne: Jean-Claude Leclercq
Stage 5 Circuit Cycliste Sarthe: Othmar Häfliger
Bern, Philippe Chevallier
Stage 1 Tour de Romandie, Niki Rüttimann
Stage 19 Giro d'Italia, Jean-François Bernard
Stage 8 Tour de Suisse, Roy Knickman
Winterthur, Andreas Kappes
Stages 18 & 24 Tour de France: Jean-François Bernard
Callac, Jean-François Bernard
Chateau-Chinon-Ville, Jean-François Bernard
Overall Post Danmark Rundt] Kim Andersen
Overall GP Tell, Guido Winterberg
Stage 1 Pascal Richard]]
Stages 2 & 3, Kim Andersen
Overall Paris - Bourges, Kim Andersen
Stage 3, Kim Andersen
Bologna, Jean-François Bernard
Leibstadt Cyclo-cross, Pascal Richard
Lanarvily, Cyclo-cross, Yvon Madiot
Aix-en-Provence Criterium, Jean-François Bernard
TTT Prologue Paris–Nice
Stage 6a Paris–Nice, Andreas Kappes
Stages 1, 8 & 15 Giro d'Italia, Jean-François Bernard
Stage 7 Giro d'Italia, Andreas Kappes
Tour du Lyonais et des monts Pilat]], Fabrice Philipot
GP Plouay, Luc Leblanc
Mere, Andreas Kappes
Stage 6b Volta Ciclista a Catalunya, Jacques Hanegraaf
Stage 3 Schwanenbrau Cup, Andreas Kappes
Stage 1 Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana, Andreas Kappes
Stage 1 Critérium International: Marc Madiot
Vienne: Pascal Poisson
Stages 1b & 2 Route du Sud, Philippe Leleu
Stage 5a Tour de Suisse, Remig Stumpf
Stages 7 & 8 Tour de Suisse, Andreas Kappes
Jersey white.svg Young rider classification Tour de France, Fabrice Philipot
Camors, Pascal Poisson
Regensburg, Remig Stumpf
Fourmies, Martial Gayant
Vouneuil-sous-Biard, Denis Roux
Dortmund, Six Days, Andreas Kappes
München, Six Days, Andreas Kappes
Zürich, Six Days, Pierangelo Bincoletto
Bordeaux, Six Days, Pierangelo Bincoletto
Stage 3 Vuelta a Andalucía, Pascal Lance
Stage 1b Vuelta Ciclista a la Communidad Valenciana, Remig Stumpf
Stage 8b Paris–Nice, Jean-François Bernard
Stage 2 Tour du Vaucluse, Thierry Bourguignon
Stage 15 Vuelta a España, Jean-François Bernard
Stage 21 Vuelta a España, Denis Roux
Amiens, Martial Gayant
Flag of France.svg  France National Road Race Championships, Philippe Louviot
Callac: Philippe Louviot
Overall Paris - Bourges, Laurent Jalabert
Stage 1, Laurent Jalabert
Chateau-Chinon-Ville, Denis Roux
Vayrac, Philippe Louviot
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour du Limousin, Martial Gayant
Stage 1, Christian Chaubet
Stage 8 Tour de la Communauté Europeènne, Martial Gayant
Bordeaux Criterium, Laurent Jalabert
Stage 7 Herald Sun Tour, Jean-François Bernard
Köln, Six Days, Andreas Kappes
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Paris–Nice, Tony Rominger
Stages 6 & 8, Tony Rominger
Jersey yellow.svg Overall Tour de Romandie, Tony Rominger
Stages 2 & 4, Tony Rominger
Dun-le-Palestel, Criterium, Thierry Bourguignon
Overall Cronostaffetta, Pascal Lance, Hans Kindberg, Sébastien Flicher, Laurent Bezault, Tony Rominger
Stage 1b, Pascal Lance, Hans Kindberg, Sébastien Flicher, Laurent Bezault, Tony Rominger
Bergamo, Tony Rominger
Grand Prix des Nations, Tony Rominger
Firenze - Pistoia, Tony Rominger


(1) Bryan Malessa, "Once Was King: An interview with Greg LeMond"

(2) Andrew Hampsten: The Interview

(3) Inside Cycling with John Wilcockson: Hinault takes a big early lead in dramatic '85 Tour [filed Nov. 28, 2005]

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  1. "Gitane USA racing". Gitane USA. Retrieved 2007-11-14.
  3. "La Vie Claire wins Prendas Ciclismo retro jersey poll". Retrieved 2019-08-08.
  4. "Equipes 1990". Memoire du Archived from the original on 2007-08-17. Retrieved 2007-11-20.
  5. Wilcockson, John (18 November 2005). "Inside Cycling with John Wilcockson: LeMond, Hinault and the Tapie connection". VeloNews . Retrieved 4 July 2015.

Further reading