Hinault sticks to his guns regarding Chris Froome comments

'It must be tough to have all those people booing'

"I don't care," Bernard Hinault told French website Sport24 when asked what he thinks about Chris Froome's presence at this year's Tour de France.

In June, five-time Tour winner Hinault had called for the peloton to strike if Froome started the race.

"It's up to the international authorities [WADA, UCI] who allowed him to line up for the start of the Tour to resolve any problems arising from it," said Hinault. "They haven't thought through the consequences, but it's serious.

"The other day I was with a youth cycling coach, and before races parents have been giving Ventolin [asthma inhalers] to children who aren't sick. That's what's happened. People copy what the stars do.

"As for Froome, he's still at the Tour, and I wish him all the best, as he's up against a lot of people who don't want him there," Hinault continued. "Mentally, it must be tough to have all those people booing.

"But that's his problem – not mine."

There was praise, meanwhile, for French favourite Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale), who Hinault believes has the ability to win the Tour.

"He has to take advantage of the rivalries between the other contenders," said Hinault. "He has to take advantage of being such a great descender. Even in the dry, he can put people under pressure, so he has to show what he's capable of."

Hinault also told Sport24 that he believes today's professional cyclists ride very differently to how they did when he was racing.

"Riders today are always on their brakes," said Hinault, who won the Tour in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, and finally in 1985, which remains the last Tour won by a Frenchman. "They're always waiting for the final climb.

"It wasn't like that in my generation: if you had the opportunity to drop someone, you went for it. It was fun," he said. "It's still the best rider who wins today, because you have to be good at time trialling and in the mountains, but we also used to have fun going for the sprints and time bonuses, just to try to get one over on our rivals."

Hinault also bemoaned the fact that so few riders seem to take advantage of opportunities that come their way.

"No one just rides on instinct anymore, for the fun of it. No one looks back under their arm, sees that they've got a 50-metre gap and then decides to shout, 'A bloc!and go for it, right when no one expects them to go. That was bike racing, but it's not like that anymore these days, unfortunately."

 

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