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July 08, 2004

Hinault: Armstrong "50-50 at best"

BBC SPORT | Hinault doubts Armstrong

Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault is unconvinced that Lance Armstrong has what it takes to win this Tour:

"He's not looked that good this year and everyone saw how he struggled in the mountains last year," said Hinault.

"So I'd say his chances of winning are only 50-50 at best."

This seems a little strange, based on Armstrong's very good performance in the prologue. None of the other guys Hinault tips have done anything individually in this Tour either, but that's the nature of the first week:

"For me, the three key men are Jan Ullrich, Tyler Hamilton and Roberto Heras. And this year's course means they all have a strong chance."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 8, 2004 in Lance Armstrong 2004, Top Stories, Tour news | Permalink


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Tracked on Jul 8, 2004 9:08:45 PM


Hinault is right on the money. Lance has struggled quite a bit so far. I'd expect him to pull out before the real mountain stages. That's probably the real reason why USPS wants out.

What a dork! "50-50 at best"??? I hope his beers were good! They certainly must've been strong.

Posted by: Larry at Jul 8, 2004 10:18:16 AM

I don't believe in questioning people's motivations, but I'm sure we'll see alot of jealousy-themed comments.

re: Lance's chance's, Hinault is stating the obvious and for that he's an idiot.

Of course at this point in le tour one could only give any of the top riders a 50/50 chance!! There's 2 weeks of racing left, and dozens of uncontrollable negative risk factors could still destroy Lance's (or any riders) efforts.

The comments re: "Lance hasn't looked good this year" is just stupid...was he watching the prologue when he dusted Ullrich and Hamilton? That prologue gap would be over 2 minutes in a 60km ITT.

Perhaps he's trying to motivate Lance...

Posted by: Jason O. at Jul 8, 2004 10:19:10 AM

I don't see how the Posties "dusted" Phonak. With five riders vs eight I think Phonak did a fantastic job of handling the TTT. If Phonak had a full compliment of riders would they have dominated the stage? It'll be something to look forward to seeing next year.

If I were to call it, the contender of most threat to Armstrong would be Hamilton instead of Ullrich. Provided he can stay rubber side down. (A hell, that's never stopped him either!)

Posted by: Brent at Jul 8, 2004 10:37:01 AM

What do you mean you don't see how the Posties "dusted" Phonak. Phonak did put in an impressive performance... BUT THEY STILL CAME IN 1'07" SLOWER! That's a dusting in my book no matter how many people they lost. That's why it a TEAM time trial. Weather they didn't prepare correctly, or react correctly with the weather, it is thier fault they came in second.

Himault is being an idiot. Armstrong has a long way to go before Paris, but he has delt some serious psychological blows to the compitition.

Posted by: gundog99 at Jul 8, 2004 10:47:10 AM

Brent, read a bit more carefully: the dusting occurred in the prologue, i.e., Mano a Mano. A 15+ second gap in a short 3 mile course is significant.

No question that phonak deserves a lot of credit for the TTT effort.

Posted by: Jason O. at Jul 8, 2004 10:59:00 AM

Lance and the rest of the riders still have several challenges ahead of them before any one person can have a clear advantage- most importantly, Lance Armstrong is aware of this.

Posted by: Dennis Remke at Jul 8, 2004 11:09:42 AM

My mistake, I did misread that. And I agree Phonak could have prepared better, but I believe that had Phonak been working on all cylinders in the TTT they could have been good competition for Postal.

Posted by: Brent at Jul 8, 2004 11:42:29 AM

Isn't that kind of an odd way to look at it Dennis? Don't get me wrong, I'd sing and dance in the streets if Tyler were to win the overall (our dogs look just alike!) but these "if/then" statements sound a little off to me somehow. Like if I were to say, "Well, if I were the Flash, I could have run over there and ridden a bike around all of France during the Postal time trial." Or, "If only I'd performed better, then my result would have been better." True on the face of it, but maybe not relevant?

Posted by: Christopher at Jul 8, 2004 12:03:10 PM

> Everyone saw how he struggled in the mountains last year

I'm only a one-month-a-year cycling fan (but a yearround cyclist, through Chicago winters and all), but my memory of last year includes nearly weeping in amazement as Lance plowed up the mountains leaving everyone else in his dust. I've even been telling friends, zero-months-a-year cycling fans all, to "Just wait until the mountains. That's when Lance will attack."

I'm guessing Hinault knows a little more about the Tour than I do, so feel free to enlighten me.

Posted by: Luke at Jul 8, 2004 12:13:40 PM

Are any of you watching the same tour as me. Lance will not start to race until the mountains, theres no need to. Thats when the real tour contenders will come into there own.

Posted by: Rick at Jul 8, 2004 12:21:14 PM

Lance is farther ahead than he is given credit for. The 20 second 40 second limit makes it look closer than it is. Wait till a few weeks a behind us, and lance hits the climbs were he is strong and others flounder. He will be riding so far ahead he will think he is riding in the wrong country.

Posted by: Jim at Jul 8, 2004 12:37:00 PM

Good thing Hinault did not promise to "help" him like he did with LeMond. I read a great series of interviews with Hinault and all the other past Tour winners in "Cycle Sport" magazine (anyone else read them?). The only bigger a-hole is Fignon.

Bring it on- God I love the internet!

Posted by: Larry at Jul 8, 2004 12:44:06 PM

It is clear everyone is jealous of Lance and his success. And no one is more jealous than the stinkin French that don't have anyone that can beat him. Maybe they should change the rules next year, and make the riders ride backwards. The French are great at running backwards, maybe they can ride the same way.

Posted by: Jim at Jul 8, 2004 1:19:00 PM

"Lance is farther ahead than he is given credit for." WHAT!!! The rules were in effect before the start of the race and before the start of the TTT. They knew going into it that the time caps were in effect. So he is NOT further ahead than credit is given for. Sure the rule stinks. But it is as it is. The Posties won it with such conviction to deal a blow to the psyche of the compitition.

Posted by: gundog99 at Jul 8, 2004 1:19:51 PM

I agree the rules were in affect before the raace, my point is Lance is a far better rider than we can see in the big picture, and the overall time. I do not agrue with the fact the posties won, and won big. Lance will be wearing the Jersey on the last day going into the Champs Elysees, and coming to the finish line. Only a crash can stop Lance, and several last year did not stop him. He is riding better than last year, and is ahead of last years pace. He has worn the yellow jersey earlier than last year, and was way behind at this stage of the race last year. Lances competition is the road conditions, and crashes. No one else can touch him. He will ride safely when necessary, and forget abouot the yellow jersey till the mountains so he can wear it at the podium on the final day.

Posted by: Jim at Jul 8, 2004 1:31:42 PM

All of you who are predicting Lance's victory...please relax. I want him to win as well, but there are so many uncontrollable risks in front of him that you should wait another 8-9 days or so before making pronouncements.

I agree that a crash is probably the only thing that can stop him, but if he crashes out (or some crazy spectator punches him a la Merckx) the media and conventional wisdom will only say "Look!! Lance has failed!"

Posted by: Jason O. at Jul 8, 2004 3:24:27 PM

50-50 against the entire field isn't so bad. Any other rider in the field would take those odds in a heartbeat. Lance has faked everyone out for years, and he's likely to do it again. Knowing they would only get a 20 second advantage, no matter how badly they "dusted" the field, USPS might have slowed down the last several kilometers to conserve energy and to stay safe. In my books, they "dusted" everyone. A crash is the only thing he has to fear.

Posted by: nsufins at Jul 8, 2004 4:04:30 PM

I think we may be reading too much into the comments. Could there be jealousy? Sure, but I have a feeling that Mr. Hinault was just trying to be reasonable, to paint a good picture about the race in general.

Lance has had a great start this year, Mr. Hinault is way off base there - but are we even sure that this was said in the last day or so? He might have said made these comments prior to this years TDF, and a reporter recycled them to make their deadline. And if this exchange happened prior, he was speaking the truth - Iban and Tyler ate him alive in the Dauphine.

I'll give Mr. Hinault the benefit of the doubt - I don't think he was trying to criticise Armstrong. I have a feeling they are better friends than we may know - he might just be making an effort to be fair to the others.

But let me add this - I would take the pack over a rider any day. As mentioned, so much can happen over the course of 20 stages. On the other hand, Lance seems more focused than in past Tours, and he looks to be in great form.

Dominant in the Prologue, on the pave, and amazing in the TTT.

It will be interesting to hear what Mr. Hinault has to say in a few weeks if Lance is showing off an open hand and his thumb in Paris.

Posted by: paz at Jul 8, 2004 4:13:59 PM

Lance looks good and will win - subsequently retire - Hamilton will "take-over" the new Team now that US Postal got sunk - Hamilton can lead an excellent team of all USA riders - Armstrong can be the coach from 2005 on!!!

Posted by: Charlie Dore at Jul 8, 2004 4:21:01 PM

u.s. postal & lance armstrong is the winning combination. no doubt, they've got the master plan...

i'm from germany and i support the whole t-mobile team - but the real idol is, no doubt, lance.

Posted by: kaydee at Jul 8, 2004 5:42:54 PM

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