A great source to find trivia about past Tour de Frances is "Mémoire du cyclisme". It allows me to go back to what was my first Tour de France I consciously followed: the tour of 1978. It was a heroic battle between Joop Zoetemelk and Bernard Hinault, the young and coming star. Zoetemelk defended and Hinault attacked. By the 20th stage, a 72 kilometer individual time trial from Metz to Nancy, Hinault crushed the competition and finally took the lead over from Zoetemelk.
Thus he won his first tour and he would continue to win four more. Hinault would moslty conquer when he participated. In 1980, Zoetemelk won, after Hinault had to give up on account of a knee injury. In 1983 he did not participate and Fignon could win. Only in 1984 and 1986, Hinault did not win, but then at least came 2nd. Who won? First Fignon (1984), then Lemond (1986), two other great champions.
Bernard was an impressive rider. He was a fantastic at the time trial, a great climber, but he could also win a sprint. In addition to all that, he was a leader in the peleton. Hinault was the boss - Le Patron. I feel, a champion and a personality such as Bernard Hinault, never has returned to cycling ever.
1981 Hinault ,