"I'm neutral, but I'm against the ProTour"
By Brecht Decaluwé in Liège
Five-time Tour de France winner and two-time Liège-Bastogne-Liège winner, Bernard Hinault, currently holds a place on the organising committee for L-B-L. In speculating about who might be on the podium in the 2007 edition of la Doyenne, Hinault remarked, "We can expect the same guys as in last Wednesday's Flèche Wallonne - why not the same podium with Rebellin, Valverde and Di Luca?
"Maybe we'll see Philippe Gilbert as well. He's a local and will be very motivated to perform well in front of his home crowds. He'll have to try his very best and probably he needs to anticipate, just like he did in the Flèche Wallonne. It's hard to fight against the favourites but they are specialised in these races," Hinault said.
The former all-terrain winner, who won both Paris-Roubaix and Liège-Bastogne-Liège during his career, maintained that victories like that are still possible. "Why not? Valverde can ride all kinds of races; some riders want to do well in the Tour de France GC and choose to skip the cobbled races but imagine that there's a stage with cobbles in the Tour de France, then they're in trouble."
"The Badger" Hinault commented on the recent problems between Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and the Union Cycliste International (UCI). "I'm neutral, but I'm against the ProTour. The ProTour system just doesn't seem logical to me. Right now it is more important to have a lot of money than having a good team.
"Once you're in the ProTour, there's no risk of relegation like in football and that's not motivating the riders to fight for good results," explained Hinault. "Today the UCI is forcing the best riders to take part in an unknown stage race in Poland and organisers can't invite all the motivated teams they want to the start of their race. The ASO is fighting for open cycling, we want motivated teams at the start of our races," Hinault told Cyclingnews.