'How did you do it?' Suspicious French cyclist grills Jason Kenny
Beaten French champion Gregory Bauge demands to know how the young English cyclist won
IT'S FAIR to say the French are fuming. If it wasn't bad enough seeing a 'rosbif' ride to victory in the Tour de France last month, our Gallic neighbours have spent the last week watching Team GB clean up in the Olympic velodrome. Worse, Britain's latest gold medal – the fifth for our cyclists so far – was won yesterday by the young Jason Kenny against France's great champion Gregory Bauge in the men's sprint.
Bauge appeared to initially take his defeat with the graciousness one would expect from a rider of his calibre, but during the post-race press conference he launched an extraordinary interrogation of Kenny.
Throughout the exchange Bauge was genial but there was no doubting he wanted answers as to why and how Britain has been so dominant in the velodrome.
Bauge, the three-time world champion, was granted permission by the press conference's moderator to ask Kenny some questions of his own.
"So you were Olympic runner-up in 2008 and you prepared for four years and the objective was today. So how did you prepare?" asked the 27-year-old Bauge.
Kenny replied that he had not prepared differently, adding: "The Olympics was our main goal and objective. As an athlete we always try hard and when you get to an Olympics that's when all our training comes together."
Bauge then pointed out that in the 2009 world championships in Poland Kenny had been beaten in the quarter-finals. Kenny explained: "That's because you went out in the reps (repechages) and beat me in the quarter-finals."
To which Bauge replied through a translator: "So, if I understand you well, for the next four years you will just relax and then when it comes to Rio [the 2016 Olympics], bang."
By now Kenny was beginning to get a little irritated with Bauge's persistence. "Not at all," replied the 24-year-old Englishman. "The Olympics is the main one for us and I think that's the one we put the most into, but me personally I still want to win world championships. That means a lot to me as a rider."
An Australian journalist then asked Bauge why he was asking these questions, and the Frenchmen retorted: "Because he beat me. I've prepared my Games in my own way so I'm curious to know how he prepared. It's not easy."
Bauge, who was stripped of the 2011 world title by the International Cycling Union for drug test infringements, was careful to keep his line of questioning above board but one began to wonder what he was getting at.
The director of the French cycling team, Isabelle Gautheron, has admitted she is intrigued by the success of the British cyclists, saying: "They have not dominated the last four years… but here, they crush everyone. Girls, especially, are four seconds ahead in the pursuit. It's good for them. Do they have a technology? A secret preparation? We have to do sports intelligence to know how they can be so strong." Perhaps, she added, they have "magic wheels".
The bad news for France is that Team GB stands to win three more golds in the velodrome today with Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton and Laura Trott all tipped for glory.
Stand by for another fit of French pique.