After yesterday’s profile of Team Sprint World Champions Germany, we turn to the Nation they took the title from in somewhat controversal circumstances in December – France.
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While it’s true to say that the German men’s Team Sprint squad (see yesterday’s preview) are on top form at the moment, it’s also worth remembering that they inherited their 2011 World title from the French as a result of the UCI’s controversial – in France, anyway – removal of Grégory Baugé’s results during his retrospective ban. Like the Germans – and unlike the Great Britain squad, who we’ll focus on in Monday’s preview – the French have a squad of four riders who can produce world beating times in a number of different combinations. Michaël D’Almeida and Kévin Sireau – as well as Baugé – will want to show that they are still the best in the World, even if they can’t wear the jerseys to prove it.
Baugé and Sireau’s sucsess in the Sprint competition over the last few years has effectively meant that D’Almeida’s success – Silver in the Kilo in 2008 apart – have mostly been in the World Cup, rather than on the biggest stage.
Mickaël Bourgain is the fourth member of the Team Sprint squad – he’s been winning medals in the event at World level for 10 years including Golds in 2004, 2006 and 2009 – but these days is more at home in the individual events – taking the Bronze in the Sprint at the 2011 Worlds – after Baugé’s removal from the records – as he did in 2008. He’s had a quiet winter – settling for just a Bronze in the Team Sprint in Astana – which was also D’Almeida’s only showing in the World Cup.
Francois Pervis – who won the World Cup Kilo in Cali and Keirin in Beijing – doesn’t even make the squad for London.
But it is on the Sprint – and on Baugé, in particular – that the spotlight will fall in London – and in Melbourne. So dominant in 2009, 2010 and 2011 it will be fascinating to see if the furore over his whereabouts violations has affected his performance. Will it finally allow Sireau – who showed so much promise early on before slipping back into Baugé’s shadow – to fulfil his potential?
As with the Germans, the French women sprinters are just a little off the pace. Clara Sanchez took a Silver in the Keirin in Pruszków in 2009 and a Bronze in Apeldoorn two years later – where Sandie Clair took Silver in the 500m Time Trial – a feat she repeated in Astana this winter. If anything, they’re closer to the medals than the German women and it wouldn’t be a major upset to see one of them on the podium in London.
Unlike the Germans, the French also have at least one medal contender in both the Men’s and Women’s Omnium competitions. Bryan Coquard took Bronze in Cali and Silver in Beijing, while Pascale Jeuland has been there or thereabouts for a while now.