La Vie Claire

La Vie Claire
Team information
Registered France
Founded 1984 (1984)
Disbanded 1991
Discipline 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 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 Köchli. 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 1987. Jean-François Bernard was seen by some as a successor to Hinault in stage races and became the leader of the team. Bernard wore the maillot jaune and finished the 1987 Tour de France third overall and wore the maglia rosa in 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 jerseys in cycling. In spring 2007, the clothing retailer Urban Outfitters introduced a women's T-shirt design named "Floating Squares" nearly identical to the La Vie Claire jersey with the sponsors' logos removed. From 1987 Toshiba became the main sponsor of the team and from 1988 onwards La Vie Claire was no longer a sponsor. The jersey was redesigned in 1990.[3] 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.[4]

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.

Was La Vie Claire clean?

La Vie Claire's victories came at a critical juncture in cycling. According to Greg LeMond "a huge movement" towards doping began in Italy around the early 1990s. Many riders suddenly found themselves out of competition and a large number of riders unwilling to participate in "the doping culture" began to retire. LeMond said in 2001 that: "Every rider on La Vie Claire was clean; that was Paul Koechli's big deal to make sure he had a clean team." He added that his American and Canadian teammates, Andy Hampsten and Steve Bauer, "made it through clean." Whether through coincidence or not, Paul Koechli and Steve Bauer drifted out of the sport, somewhat prematurely, around the same time that EPO began to be widely abused and steroids became outdated.

Intra-team rivalry

In the 1985 Tour, LeMond was far ahead of the pack when the team boss Bernard Tapie and coach Paul Koechli asked him to slow down, saying Hinault, who had won four Tours and was going for his record-tying fifth, was right behind. LeMond kept waiting until he realized he'd been tricked; Hinault was more than three minutes behind. Hinault went on to win that year's tour, and in return, LeMond was assured by Hinault that he would support LeMond the following year. In 1986, Hinault rode an aggressive race, 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. Andy 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 St Etienne. 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.

Major Results

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


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

(2) Andy Hampsten: The Interview

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


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