12 June 2020

Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault believes Chris Froome can overcome Team Ineos leadership ‘problem’ to win fifth title

Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault believes Chris Froome can overcome the complications of Team Ineos leadership to win the race in 2020.

Froome, 35, has won the three-week stage race four times, but has had to watch his two team-mates Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal mount the top step of the podium in 2018 and 2019.

Hinault is one of four riders to have won the Tour de France five times (Imago/PA Images)

Yet despite Ineos having the headache of three riders fighting for the superior role in the team, Hinault insists they only have themselves to blame.

Speaking to Dutch newspaper AD, he said: "It's the problem they created at Ineos. They recruited the best riders – Bernal, Thomas and Froome – to win the Tour every year. And they all want to win.

"It's up to the team management to decide. They haven't done that in the past. Only in the mountains will it be decided who goes for the overall victory. The decision about the leadership has to be made there."

The 2020 edition of the Tour was due to begin at the end of June but has now been pushed back by two months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

If Froome secures a fifth title later this year then he will join the all-time greats of Hinault, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain as a five-time winner.

He will also become only the third non-Frenchman to win the race five times.

Bernal became the youngest winner of the Tour in over 100 years when he rode to victory in 2019 (PA)

And while Bernal and Thomas pose very real threats to his bid for a record-equalling victory, Hinault believes Froome is still more than capable of riding into Paris in yellow later this year.

"Bernal has the advantage. He is very young and very talented. He's is the rider of the future," he added.

"Froome will have to wait for the Tour and then decide what he does: stay or leave. If he doesn't win the Tour this year because he didn't get support from his team-mates, he'd better go to another team where he's sure he's the only leader for the Tour.

"I think that Froome still has it in him. Two years ago, he wasn't good enough and Geraint Thomas won, and he wasn't there last year. I believe he can do it in 2020."

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