Bernhard Hinault has given his public support to Oleg Tinkov's idea of the biggest riders in professional cycling going head to head in the three Grand Tours, suggesting that the triple challenge would be possible if the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana had easier routes.
Tinkov told Cyclingnews during the recent Giro d'Italia route presentation that his Tinkoff Credit System Bank would offer a million Euro prize if Alberto Contador, Vincenzo Nibali, Nairo Quintana and Chris Froome competed in all three Grand Tour. Tinkov has since admitted that the idea is unlikely to happen in 2015 but hopes it will spark debate and consideration as plans are finalised to reform professional cycling.
"If I was still a rider, I'd be up for it!" Hinault told French newspaper L'Equipe on Friday, mixing his usual bravado and hard man image with the idea of changing the current Grand Tours so it is physically possible to ride all three in the same season.
“For sure if I was them, I'd do it. It doesn't seem that difficult to me: we just have assume that there'd be three week or a month to recover between each one. I'll go even further and suggest that if you ride all three Grand Tours, you can also go on to win the world title, because you're in the best place to do it.”
“String three Grand Tours together is just like doing the double, it's not harder. And if you are a champion, you impose the conditions: 'Ok. I'll ride but I want a less challenging route.'
Hinault won the Tour de France five times during his career. He also won the Giro d'Italia three times and the Vuelta a Espana twice. He twice completed a Giro-Tour double, in 1982 and 1985, and won a Tour-Vuelta double in 1978.
He now works for Tour de France organiser ASO and seems keen to defend the dominance of the Tour, hinting that the triple challenge would be possible if the Giro and Vuelta were made easier.
“We can't allow the Giro and the Vuelta be as difficult as they are today. The organisers always want to do more and that ends up with riders avoiding their Tours,” he said.