Retired French professional Bernard Hinault will make his debut appearance at the first WorldTour round of the 2013 season, at Australia's Tour Down Under. The five-time Tour de France winner will be one of honoured guests attending the Legends' Night Dinner.
Hinault, nicknamed "The Badger" will join a star-studded cast including current UCI road world champion Philippe Gilbert, 2010 retrospective Tour de France champion Andy Schleck and London Olympic gold medallist and Australian track cycling icon Anna Meares.
The arrival of Hinault in Australia is reflective the growth and success of the Tour Down Under over the past 15 years. Hinault's presence at the dinner is fitting due to his extensive palmares. The Frenchman is one of just four cyclists who have claimed overall victories each of the three grand tours: Giro d'Italia (1980, 1982 and 1985), Tour de France (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1985) and Vuelta a España (1978 and 1983).
"We have always had Bernard Hinault in our sights as someone we'd love to have at the Santos Tour Down Under and it's great that he will join us in January, coinciding with the race's 15th anniversary celebrations," said Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur.
Hinault will be in Adelaide for the final weekend of the week-long race that begins on 20 January with the prelude criterium; People's Choice Classic. The official start of six-day race is on 22 January with Stage 1 running from Prospect to Lobethal. The Badger should be in the mix of the action for the exciting Stage 5 at Old Wilunga Hill Saturday.
"I am looking forward to travelling to Adelaide for the Santos Tour Down Under and I want to thank the organisers for the invitation. The Santos Tour Down Under has become a great race, with some of the best riders in the world and beautiful race routes," said Hinault.
"Since Phil Anderson, who used to race with me, Australian cycling kept improving with a fabulous track tradition and great riders like Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady and Cadel Evans, who finally became the first Australian to win the Tour de France.
"When I used to race, I always started my season in Europe because there was no professional races out of Europe. I would have liked to start my season here.
The Legends' Night Dinner will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on 26 January, starting from 7pm. More information can be found at tourdownunder.com.