Legendary five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault is taking on a ‘patron’ role with Team Raleigh for 2014, as the British UCI Continental team bid to return to the upper echelons of professional cycling.
Former Team Raleigh rider and Hinault’s fellow Breton, Eric Berthou, who will take on a managerial role with Team Raleigh next year having retired from racing, was instrumental in securing Le Blaireau’s backing having already attracted several French stars to the squad for next season.
Team director Cherie Pridham said she was delighted to have attracted the support of a cycling legend to the developing team.
She said: “We’re honoured and proud to have such a personality and legend in the cycling world working with us.
“Bernard is a massive name in professional cycling and will certainly bring a lot of interest and exposure to the team.
“He will be offering support and guidance, both in the UK and in his native France, and will be joining us at selected events next year.”
Hinault’s illustrious career saw him competing against the TI-Raleigh team of the 1970s and 80s, which included fellow Tour de France winner, Joop Zoetemelk.
And the Frenchman , who admits to fond memories of his rivalry with some of TI-Raleigh’s stars, believes the current team is capable of achieving great results of their own.
“It was a very good team with great riders,” Hinault said of the legendary squad of the 1970s and 80s. “Now this is a new team with young people and I am sure they will go on to much success and podium places.”
On the Frenchman’s appointment, Berthou said: “I have travelled extensively through cycling, starting with Barloworld in South Africa then onto Spain with the Caisse d’Epargne, and also Italy.
“But my roots are in Brittany, a strong heartland of French cycling, so I thought it logical to ask Breton’s most famous rider to become a patron for Raleigh.
“There was an obvious connection between the racing scene in Breton and in Britain, plus we’re next to the ocean and, like the British riders, open to inclement weather.
“And most importantly, like the TI-Raleigh team I learned that it is better to have Bernard Hinault with you than against you.”
Alongside the French additions, Raleigh have also recruited several British stars, including this year’s British number one Yanto Barker.
Hinault believes the Anglo-French mix of riders will be key to boosting Raleigh’s global appeal.
He said: “Cycling is a sport that is exported widely and we must look at the growth it has in emerging countries such as Britain.
“Now races and teams are on the four corners of the globe, which was a building process that started in my time, making cycling an international affair.”