By Matt Majendie
BBC Sport in Paris
Five-time Tour de France winner Bernard Hinault insists Lance Armstrong cannot call himself the greatest cyclist of all time even if he wins the next two Tours.
Armstrong is this year bidding for a fifth win to match the feat of Hinault, Eddy Merckx, Jacques Anquetil and Miguel Indurain.
And such is his billing as favourite - bookmakers have him at 2-7 to win come the end in Paris on 20 July - followers of the Tour are already talking about the Texan winning a record sixth time in 2004.
But Hinault told the BBC Sport website: "Even if he does do win the next two, he cannot go around calling himself 'the greatest'.
"Sure, he is a great cyclist - one of the best there has ever been.
"But all this talk of who is the greatest is too difficult to work out.
"I'm too old to race him now of course but who knows what would have happened if he'd been riding in my era.
"The same goes for Merckx, Anquetil and Indurain. It's just speculation and no one will ever really know who is the greatest."
Despite downplaying Armstrong's achievements, Hinault insisted a fifth win was a virtual certainty for the US Postal rider.
Hinault said: "2003 will once again be Armstrong's Tour - no question.
"Who is there to stop him? You have [Joseba] Beloki, [Jan] Ullrich and [Tyler] Hamilton of course, but none of them have the all-round ability to outdo Armstrong.
"During his last four wins he has been the leading time triallist and then caused his rivals to collapse in the mountains with attack after attack.
"That'll happen again and the American will be in yellow once again in Paris."
The Tour begins in Paris on Saturday with the opening prologue, which Armstrong is favourite to win.