Chris Froome reaffirms vow to start Tour de France as Bernard Hinault continues criticism

Bernard Hinault says Froome has no place at the Tour de France as the defending champion says he'll be on the start line on July 7

Chris Froome ahead of the 2018 Tirreno-Adriatico (Sunada)
(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Chris Froome has hit back at critics like Bernard Hinault ahead of the 2018 Tour de France, saying: "I have every right to be racing."

Team Sky's Grand Tour star is dealing with an ongoing case from the Vuelta a España. On his way to winning last year, he tested twice for the allowed limit of asthma drug salbutamol.

Because it is a specified substance, Froome is able to race while the case is ongoing. It upsets some like five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault, who says that Froome should not be racing.

>>> Tour de France 2018 start list

"I have done nothing wrong here. I have every right to be racing," Froome told Sky Sports of being at the start of the Tour on July 7 in Vendée.

The process is long for Froome, who tested for twice the allowed limit of asthma drug salbutamol on September 7 after the 18th stage. He went on to win the Vuelta a España.

Some say that he is arguing a kidney failure and some say he is relying on a Dutch research paper that pokes holes in the test for asthma drug salbutamol. Either way, he needs time to prepare documents and the UCI anti-doping officials need time to comb through them. Around 1500 pages have been handed over from Froome's lawyer to the UCI.

"Through this process, I am allowed to demonstrate that I have done nothing wrong," Froome added. "And I am fully expecting to be exonerated by the end of this process."

Critics have blasted the process and Team Sky's decision to allow him to race. Other teams in the voluntary Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) would not be able to allow their riders in such a situation due to tighter rules.

Hinault raced through the 1970s and 1980s and won three editions of the Giro d'Italia, the Vuelta a España twice and five editions his home race, the Tour de France. He has become Froome's loudest critic.

He recently said that the riders should strike at the Tour if Froome races and on Wednesday he continued along the same line.

"I do not think he has a place [at the Tour] today, he's positive," Hinault told the AFP news agency.

"Why was Alberto Contador convicted for the same reasons, and why is [Froome] not condemned?

"They have a lot of money to defend it, but is it a good image for cycling? In cadet races today they all have Ventolin [salbutamol puffs] while they are not sick."

Hinault pointed to the controversial TUEs for corticosteroids that Bradley Wiggins used ahead of his 2012 Tour de France win. They later came to light in 2016.

"You have to ask questions because this is the second issue they have. Was there not a problem with Wiggins once?" added Hinault.

Bernard Hinault during the Team Presentation of the 2015 Tour de France (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

"If I were in Dumoulin's place – second in the Giro d'Italia behind Froome – I'd complain. He should never have been at the start."

Froome became the first British rider to win the Giro d'Italia in May with Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) placing second. Dumoulin's Sunweb team is part of the MPCC.

"If I knew that I hadn't done anything wrong, then why would I not race?" Dumoulin told Cycling Weekly earlier this year.

"But I think it's a good thing we are in MPCC so I can happily follow that advice not to race. Then later on, maybe there' s a good explanation for that. But if I was positive, I'd be happy to not race. I like those clear guidelines."

Thank you for reading 10 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.