French ‘puzzled’ by British cycling dominance
French track cycling team bosses admitted they were baffled by the glaring success of Great Britain at the Olympic Velodrome.
After two days of competition and four finals, Britain have won three gold medals and set six of the track cycling competition’s eight world records.
France, who came to London hoping to win gold in the men’s team sprint and the individual sprint have only one silver medal so far, but will look to three-time sprint champion Gregory Bauge for victory in the sprint.
With six more finals to come, for some teams the spectre of Beijing - when Britain crushed the competition to win seven of the 10 track golds - is already hovering.
“Yes, I’m puzzled by these performances,” French track cycling chief Isabelle Gautheron said.
“They haven’t dominated for the past four years, they were among the best teams in the world along with Australia, Germany and France.
“Here, they’re crushing everybody. The women (in the team pursuit) are four seconds faster than everybody else.”
Gautheron stopped short of saying there were suspicions of foul play surrounding the British team.
“No, you can’t start doubting people’s performance,” she said, adding all teams are subject to strict anti-doping measures put in place by the International Cycling Union (UCI).
“The UCI rules apply to the British, as much as the Australians and the French. They’re under scrutiny as much as we are.”
Gautheron, who was not in her post at the 2008 Olympics, said the British may simply possess intelligence and technological support which other teams can only dream of.
“Do they have the technology? A secret way of preparing? We have to dig deeper to find out how they can be so strong,” she said.
“We have managed to get to the level that they had four years ago, but they have progressed even more.”
Britain’s success at the Olympic Games is often at odds with their performances at the annual world championships, at which they have been usurped by their rivals.
Australia, for example, had dominated the men’s team pursuit in recent years, but were three seconds slower than Britain on Friday when the hosts defended their crown from Beijing.
“Maybe we should hide ourselves for three years in order to come good the fourth year,” said Gautheron.