June 28, 2004
Hinault gives Armstrong 50-50 shot
Bernard Hinault is 1 of 5 people ever to win 5 Tours de France. Today, he's a commentator for French television on cycling, and he gave Eurosport a preview of the Tour (unfortunately, it was way back during Paris-Nice), with some predictions.
Eurosport: On July 25, when the Tour has closed its 20 stages and buckled its 3,391 kilometres, will Armstrong be the winner?
Bernard Hinault: At the start of the Tour [Saturday, July 3], I give him a one-in-two chance. Once the race starts, anything is possible. It depends on him and everything that surrounds him: his adversaries, crashes, broken collarbones, his health… But logically, if he does everything exactly like he did for the past five years, there shouldn't be a problem. And if he wins, bravo! He'll deserve it.
Hinault talks about Armstrong's transformation from strong classics rider in the early 1990s to 5-timer:
Eurosport: At the start of Armstrong's career – before his cancer – did you think he would one day win the Tour de France?
Bernard Hinault: No. At the start of his career he wasn't exactly thin. When he won the world championships in Oslo  he had a lot of… shape. Knowing that weight is enemy number-one in the mountains, I never would have said this is a guy who can win the Tour.
But after his illness, Armstrong lost 12 kilos in comparison to his weight at Oslo. He came back and he was as thin as a thread. Twelve kilos in the mountains is huge! It makes all the difference.
And what about the doping?
Eurosport: Amidst the doping innuendo that is continually swirling around cycling, some have made the connection between Armstrong and the medications he was allowed to take – and may currently still be taking – because of his cancer…
Bernard Hinault: Yeah, I've heard that and here's what I have to say to that bunch of assholes: I wish you just one thing: That you have the same sickness. That you have one foot in the grave. Then you'll see how much you'll want to live. How much you'll want to do what you love and do it to it's maximum.
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Bless Hinault for saying what many of us are thinking.
Posted by: Jeff at Jun 28, 2004 10:36:33 AM
Yeah, good on Hinault. Post-cancer doping would be one thing, but it's just absurd to talk about chemotherapy as a performance-enhancing drug. Or do these people think the tumors were fake?
Posted by: lancefan at Jun 28, 2004 11:20:37 AM
It thrills to see an individual like Lance Armstrong going for the break this time. I must say that it is "NOW or NEVER".
Posted by: Willie Plata at Jun 29, 2004 9:56:10 AM
Many thanks to Bernard Hinault for using the correct term for these folks...assholes...it sounds so much classier coming from a French icon. You are a true champion.
Lance will shut them all up very soon.
Posted by: Sheila at Jun 30, 2004 12:00:27 AM