Last French winner of the Tour de France, Bernard Hinault believes that no rider of the current generation has the means to succeed him. His conclusion is without appeal.

He’s been waiting for this for almost 40 years, and no longer has any illusions. Last French winner of the Tour de France, in 1985, Bernard Hinault is absolutely certain that it is not yet for this year that he will have a successor on the Grand Boucle, where Romain Bardet, Guillaume Martin, Thibaut Pinot and David Gaudu will be the best tricolor chances.

“I don’t think we don’t have THE rider with the ability to win the Tour de France, we have to be honest, confides Hinault in an interview granted to the Telegram. When we see what we have in front of us, the Pogacars, Bernal if he comes back in good conditions, Carapaz, Roglic even if he is a little old… We don’t have the runner who is able to do both the mountain and the time trial. I don’t see how there could be a French winner in 2022. We have very good riders, but if I am a sports director, I don’t try to play for victory in the Tour, I play for the stages, the jersey green.. but not the yellow jersey, I don’t see how you can do it. »

Only Bardet could have won…

In recent years, for the first time since the Richard Virenque era, French riders have climbed the Tour podium: Jean-Christophe Péraud and Thibaut Pinot in 2014, then Romain Bardet twice in 2016 and 2017. But according to Hinault , they were far from victory. “Those who were ahead were stronger than them, notes the five-time winner of the Grande Boucle. The only time Bardet could win was the Saint-Gervais stage (in 2016, editor’s note), in the rain, when Froome broke his face. And if he does not get back on his bike, it is Bardet who wins the Tour (the Auvergnat will finish second in the general classification, editor’s note). That’s the way to win the Tour: hit it in dangerous places, take risks, including losing everything yourself. »

Pinot and Alaphilippe not made to win the Tour

There was, however, a formidable Tour de France from the French in 2019. Julian Alaphilippe had worn the yellow jersey for almost two weeks, to finish fifth in Paris. As for Thibaut Pinot, he was the strongest in the Pyrenees, before being stopped by a thigh injury when he arrived in the Alps. According to Hinault, their beautiful adventure was only an illusion. “Thibaut is a very good runner, but he is not made for the Tour, asserts the “Badger”. There is a moment when he farts. We have seen it several times. He is a rider to go for stages or classics. He has this ability. He is a puncher, but as soon as it is a little longer he is in difficulty. » Ditto for Alaphilippe. “Julian he cannot win the Tour, you have to be logical, assures Hinault. We saw it in the stage of the storm (the Tignes stage, interrupted due to a mudslide, editor’s note). If there is no storm, he said it himself, he does not finish 5e du Tour because he finished at 15 minutes that day. He is able to fight, he is a warrior. That’s what’s a shame, but it lacks that little thing in the high mountains. »

French teams not tough enough?

Hinault, French riders currently do not have the means to compete with the best riders in the world. “We don’t have the runner with extraordinary physical abilities, he insists. Look at Pogacar, Evenepoel. They are very young, and they are already real motorcycles. What makes them above? Do they have a big VO2 Max? A phenomenal power? That’s what you should know. We were talking about motorcycles, the French are 750cc, the others are 1000cc. »

And the Breton to end with a final tackle against French cycling. “When will I have a successor? We do not know anything. Maybe this runner was not born. I hope I will see this before I die. However, we have good young people, like little Martinez (Lenny Martinez, from Groupama-FDJ, editor’s note), but should we stay in France? Shouldn’t we go abroad, where the methods are harder? »

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