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Hinault: Froome's not a legend.

Bernard Hinault has not held back in his opinion on Chris Froome's Giro d'Italia victory, saying that the Team Sky rider does not belong in the history books alongside himself and Eddy Merckx.

In Rome on Sunday, Froome joined Hinault and Merckx in winning all three Grand Tours consecutively, having won last year's Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.

Hinault, who completed his achievement across the 1982 and 1983 seasons, went as far as saying that Froome should not have even been on the start line.

'Froome does not belong on that list,' Hinault said, according to Belgian publication Het Laatste Nieuws. 'He returned a positive test at the Vuelta and afterward his B-sample proved positive, so he has used doping and he has to be suspended.

'He should never have been allowed to start in the Giro. Why do we have to wait so long for a verdict? Those two Italians who had the same thing [Alessandro Petacchi and Diego Ulissi-ed.] were suspended much faster. With what right does Froome get so much time to find an explanation? Is it because Sky has so much money?'

Froome is currently under investigation after an antidoping test during the 2017 Vuelta a Espana, which he went on to win, showed him to have double the permitted levels of asthma drug salbutamol in his urine.

Froome and his legal team must now prove that he did not exceed the allowed dosage in order to avoid a suspension. As salbutamol is a 'specified' substance on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list, Froome is allowed to compete while the investigation is going on. Both Petacchi and Ulissi received bans for elevated levels of salbutamol. It took nine months for a verdict to be reached in Ulissi's case.

Last week UCI President David Lappartient told Cyclingnews that he could not guarantee that Froome's case would be resolved by the time the Tour de France begins in July. He could also not confirm whether or not the results that Froome earns during the time of the investigation will remain or be removed if he is handed a suspension.

'This is all very sad,' added Hinault. 'Froome is not part of the legend of the sport, because what image does he give cycling? He may also start the Tour later. It's a real scandal. This has to stop.'

RASMUSSEN: FROOME DIDN'T RAISE RED FLAG IN GIRO

Michael Rasmussen has come to the defense of Chris Froome, stating that in his view the Team Sky leader's dramatic Giro d'Italia resurrection and eventual win was credible and believable within the context of the race.

Froome's startling display on Stage 19 of the race saw him not only win the stage and take the overall lead, but put over three minutes into his closest rivals with an 80-kilometer solo break over three mountain passes. Froome had come into the stage fourth overall and over three minutes down on the maglia rosa having conceded time on almost every mountain finish bar the Zoncolan. Froome went on to win the race by 46 seconds over Tom Dumoulin, and although the Team Sky leader is still awaiting a verdict in his ongoing salbutamol case, the Briton currently holds the titles in all three Grand Tours. Since his shock emergence as a stage racing force in 2011, he has won or finished second in 10 of the 13 Grand Tours he has started.

'I don't see his performance at the Giro as a red flag,' Rasmussen told Cyclingnews.

'All the difference was made in one day, and under very extreme circumstances. You had the four-time Tour champion, on one of the hardest climbs in Europe, against riders who had nowhere near the same palmares as him, with weaker teams.'

'I know that people will be surprised with my views on this. I'm very critical toward Team Sky and their mismanagement of their own ethical rules. Trust for them has gone but if you look at the performance of just Froome, it was credible in the sense that I don't think he cheated any of his rivals. That's not saying that they're all doing something but no one can convince me that Froome is riding with an engine in his bike or that he's on kryptonite. Otherwise you'd not put yourself in a position where you're over three minutes behind on the 19th stage. Then you'd be leading by five minutes at that point. Winning the Giro by 46 seconds is not something that you can easily calculate after racing for over 3,000 kilometers.'

Rasmussen, who retired in 2013, but was famously ejected from the Tour de France in 2007 while in the yellow jersey, and who later confessed to doping, believes that the events played into Froome's hands at the Giro and that the race turned on its head because of the tactics and situation on the road.

When Froome attacked on the Finestre a small chase group formed, comprising of Dumoulin, Thibaut Pinot, Richard Carapaz and Miguel Angel Lopez. The four riders waited for Pinot's teammate, Sebastien Reichenbach in the valley after the climb, while the two South American riders refused to help in the chase of Froome. The argument that the majority of Froome's time gains were made on descents has been debunked but the rider did make consistent gains without losing any significant time on the final climb before the line.

'Team Sky woke up with a plan that day. They wanted to rob the bank and everyone else wanted to defend their positions. Froome, sitting in fourth, had nothing to lose. He had just won the Vuelta and he's won four Tours. For a guy like him it doesn't matter if he finishes fourth or eighth. All that mattered was winning the race. He could risk it all. Pinot was more interested in defending his podium and then you had the two South American riders concerned with the white jersey,' Rasmussen argued.

'They were second in command opponents, apart from Dumoulin. Froome took around 35 to 40 seconds on the Finestre, one of the hardest climbs in the world. That's not a significant amount at all, especially when we saw the second group waiting for each other. For me, Dumoulin threw it away on the Finestre and when he waited for Reichenbach. Dumoulin by then was the virtual maglia rosa and he had everything to lose. While at the same time he knew that if he blew up then his maglia rosa could become a fifth place. Froome could just concentrate on riding as fast as he could. I'm sure that if Dumoulin had been riding on his own he could have ended up only a minute and half behind Froome because he wouldn't have lost time on the flat or the climbs. Froome took more risks on the descents.'
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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jun 9, 2018
Words:1281
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