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Bernard Hinault will become the patron of the British Continental Team Raleigh for 2014. The five-times Tour de France winner now embraces his former rivals of Raleigh. “The TI-Raleigh team learned that it is better to have Bernard Hinault with you than against you," team manager Eric Berthou said on the arrival of Hinault.
It was Berthou, who like Hinault comes from the French region of Brittany, who contacted Hinault. "There is an obvious connection between the racing scene in Brittany and Britain, plus we’re next to the ocean and, like the British riders, open to inclement weather," Berthou explained.
"Cycling is a sport that is exported widely and we must look at the growth it has in emerging countries such as Britain," said Hinault. "Now races and teams are on the four corners of the globe, which was a building process that started in my time, making cycling an international affair."
Raleigh is a name which stands for great successes in the history of cycling. Between 1974 and 1983 the infamous TI-Raleigh team amassed 52 stage wins in the Tour de France, with 10 and 11 victories in the 1978 and 1980 editions alone. In 1980 Joop Zoetemelk won the overall classification.
"I remember the TI-Raleigh team with Joop Zoetemelk very well," Hinault said. "In 1979 when I was in the yellow jersey of the Tour de France Joop and I found ourselves alone on a breakaway and I beat him in the sprint on the Champs Elysees. The following year Zoetemelk rode for Raleigh and he took overall victory in the Tour, still very good memories."
"It was a very good team with great riders. Now this is a new team with young people and I am sure they will go on to much success and podium places."
Cherie Pridham, the Raleigh Team director adds: "We're honoured and proud to have such a personality and legend in the cycling world working with us. With his role at the Tour de France Bernard is a massive name in professional cycling and will certainly bring a lot of interest and exposure to the team. He will be offering support and guidance, both in the UK and in his native France, and will be joining us at selected events next year."