Miguel (Big Mig) Indurain
Can he do it? "I first met Lance at a race in Oslo in 1991. Even
then he showed great potential, although he was still rather
irregular. He is very strong physically and very motivated, but
the Tour is a very difficult race. Anything can happen during
those 21 days of the race."
Can he handle the pressure? "Lance has always been a very
friendly guy when he is not racing, but he's deeply concentrated
when he is on the bike. I believe his cancer could have affected
him mentally for the better. If it is possible, it has made him
even more determined and ambitious."
Bernard (the Badger) Hinault
1978, '79, '81, '82, '85
Can he do it? "Lance has a 99 percent chance of winning. He's
very well prepared. The other one percent is stuff beyond his
control. He could win five times, maybe six. Each time I meet him
up [on the winner's podium], I tell him that when he gets the
yellow jersey, it's over. The other guys will never get it back."
Can he handle the pressure? "He shouldn't change his habits. When
I was going for my fifth, I didn't change a thing. I didn't ride
so that I could say, 'I won the Tour de France five times.' I
ride for the pleasure of winning. The records and the rest
Eddy (the Cannibal) Merckx
Can he do it? "It's hard to imagine who can stop him unless he
has an accident. I see absolutely no reason why he can't win a
sixth Tour, and I imagine him carrying on for many years to come.
He has exceptional natural qualities."
Can he handle the pressure? "He is as strong mentally as he is
physically, and he can cope with all the other pressures.
Armstrong should have fewer problems this year. He sometimes asks
me for advice, but to be honest he really doesn't need it, as he
is surrounded by professionals who can deal with his every
COLOR PHOTO: JEAN PAUL PELISSIER/REUTERS (INDURAIN IN JERSEY)
COLOR PHOTO: PICHON/L'EQUIPE (HINAULT IN JERSEY)
COLOR PHOTO: L'EQUIPE (MERCKX IN JERSEY)
THREE COLOR PHOTOS: GERARD RANCINAN (3)