ALL THROUGH THE TOUR I HAD
GREAT PLEASURE; I SAID TO GREG
LEMOND THAT I WOULD HELP HIM
TO WIN THE TOUR DE FRANCE
AND I RESPECTED
Johann Le Bon and [Olivier] Le
Gac, the world junior champion,”
said Hinault. “These are two guys
for the future because they have
been world champion in the junior
category. Also they were good at
the beginning of the season.”
This is something he strongly denied
then, just as he does today.
they leave with a smile like a banana,
they have had a really good day. It’s
a real pleasure to explain the race to
people, to explain what is happening,
and what will happen in the race; it’s a
real pleasure to share my knowledge of
race strategy with the people.”
His role is much busier than it used
to be, particularly with ASO taking
on more races all the time, but he still
finds time to ride his bike though.
“Also, [Romain] Sicard, who rides
for the team in Spain [Euskaltel-
Euskadi], now we need to expect
something; we’ll wait and see.”
“I played my part in creating the
victory for LeMond,” he explained.
“All through the Tour I had great
pleasure; I said to Greg LeMond that
I would help him to win the Tour de
France and I respected my promise. If
I had not kept my word, he wouldn’t
have won,” he added.
“Yes, of course,” he smiled. “I have
more time to ride and for my family,
but my job takes a lot of my time.”
One of the measures brought
in post-Festina was to provide
French riders with a comfortable
salary, in order to remove a
lot of the temptation to dope
to win. This though, thinks
Hinault, is one of the major
factors that has robbed French
riders of the hunger for victory.
“They need a basic salary,” he said,
“and then prizes for victory.”
Having reached the milestone of
five victories in the Tour in 1985,
Hinault promised his teammate
Greg LeMond, who’d helped him
to his victory, that he would help
him to take the race the next year.
Much has been written about how
the race went; Hinault rode his
usual aggressive style, attacking
constantly, and was accused by
many of reneging on the agreement
and racing for his own victory.
While there may have been a little
friction between the teammates
during, and immediately after, the
1986 race, relations are far more
cordial in the two men’s retirements.
“I have a good relationship with Greg
LeMond,” he said. “He came to the
Tour de France with his son two years
ago. I have a good relationship with all
of my former adversaries.”
In his retirement from racing, Hinault
has taken up what is now a full-time
role with Tour organizer, ASO. The
most visible part of this is as the man
who zips up the back of the leaders’
jerseys on the podium and introduces
them to the local dignitaries on the
stage; much of it, though, is much
more behind the scenes and involves
travelling in official cars during the
race, along with VIPs.
“It gives me great pleasure,” he said.
“People come in the car with me and
With more scandals threatening the
sport once more, Hinault refuses to
be drawn into commenting on either
the cases of Alberto Contador, who
tested positive for clenbuterol during
last year’s Tour, or Lance Armstrong,
who has been accused by former
teammates of systematically doping
during his Tour reign.
“It has not been judged yet, so at the
moment they are white,” said Hinault.
“It’s black or white, no grey: if there’s
no judgement they are white, if they
are positive: black.”
So just like the striped nose of
the Badger, or the colours of
his region’s flag, whose name in
Breton means “white and black,”
Hinault will condemn or commend
once the cases are settled.
“Comme le drapeau Breton!” he laughed.
“Comme la Gwenn-ha-du!” ]p[