At the cycling track, “others caught up with us, and even outdid us”

After the first day of qualifying on Thursday 11 August, it’s time for the finals of the European Track Cycling Championships in Munich. Between the absence of favourites, a busy schedule and a new generation of women, the French can create surprises according to François Pervis, seven-time world champion in cycling and consultant for France Televisions. A successful competition will give some color to the French track two years before the Paris Games.

Franceinfo: Sports: What do you expect from these European championships?

Francois Pervis: They fall relatively poorly and aren’t really a target for every nation’s big favorites. One of the glaring examples is the absence of the Dutchman, Harry Lafrisen [champion olympique de vitesse individuelle et par équipes lors des Jeux de Tokyo et nonuple champion du monde]which skips the individual and only participates in the team’s speed test.

Several reasons for this: the track and the busy schedule. Munich Track is a movable structure, built especially for the occasion. The racetrack is shorter than usual, only 200m, compared to 250m for other competitions. Runners go faster and faster, and falls are potentially more dangerous. Some do not want to take risks, while the two worlds take place in two months [du 12 au 16 octobre à Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, là où se dérouleront les épreuves de Paris 2024]. The leaders who participate in Munich take the tournament for what it is. But it is difficult to reach the peak in mid-August and then two months later. They are currently in a full phase of intense worlds work, causing a lot of fatigue.

Who says absent?e de cadors says it’s an opportunity for others to shine…

completely. Some “elite” riders skip the line and are replaced by youngsters who give 100% because they know they won’t make the world. So ‘Europe’ is the biggest deadline of the year. This mitigates opposing forces and this is how strangers can create surprises.

Among the French, you can count on [Sébastien] Vigier and [Rayan] Hilal, then Mathilde Gross to make Marseille resonate individually. It is also interesting to see that Mathilde is no longer alone among women, as she has been for a long time. Female selection has been renewed, and some girls have just come out of the European hopes they have shone in [Julie Michaux, argent en vitesse individuelle, et Marie-Divine Kouamé, triplement médaillée à Anadia dont un l’or sur le 500 m contre-la-montre]. promises to them.

France has always been a dominant country on the track, with a golden age in the late 1990s and early 2000s…

At the time, we were way ahead of the infrastructure. We had two French poles in Ensip and Heerre, while there were gatherings of other countries here and there. coaches [le tandem Daniel Morelon et Gérard Quintyn] They decided to incorporate strength training into their training. In running you need strength and explosion. We succeeded, and we are starting to get good results [première nation aux classements des médailles des championnats du monde entre 1994 et 1999, douze médailles dont huit titres aux Jeux olympiques de 1996 et de 2000]. We were also far ahead in terms of equipment with Look and the first carbon bikes. All this made us collect medals. We were pet pets for everyone. In an individual race at the 2001 World Championships, the French are 1, 2, 3. It is something unimaginable today.

“French federal policy is very disastrous in terms of disclosure”

Francois Pervis

franceinfo: sport

Specifically, since 2012, the French track has returned to the ranks. How do you explain this shortness of breath?

France has rested on its laurels and is no longer intimidating. No attempt was made to improve performance. We were happy to stay at our level, but as time went on, others caught up and even outdid us. Levels tightened all around. Even small countries are doing well – India in particular has made great strides. Some countries have completely turned to technological improvement. Look at the British, who work with engineers from Lotus or McLaren, they have incredible budgets. It’s hard to compete with them.

We fight with our guns: Three or four years ago, our quick budget was around €130,000 when the British launched £17m. With that money, they focus on research and development and staff quality. French federal policy is very disastrous in terms of disclosure. We no longer know how to do it. Two years ago, someone from the union told me that he couldn’t do anything about the reveal, because he didn’t have the capabilities.

However, the world championships are held two years in a row in France (Roubaix in 2021, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines this year). We cannot say that we lack infrastructure.

No, this is correct. Especially since there are a lot of beautiful covered velodrome projects in France in Loudéac, around Besançon, Essarts and Angers. There is a recently released circuit track in Laval. The 2027 world championship has not yet been awarded, but the Rhône-Alpes region has positioned itself – in any case, the local elected officials have expressed their approval for the construction of a track. All of this means that we will succeed in getting people back on track, finding the nuggets, and becoming a competitive country again.

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