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LONDON (AFP) — French sprint ace Gregory Bauge said he is ready to “go to war” to show his rivals, especially hosts Britain, that he is the king of the Olympic velodrome.
Bauge, a three-time and current world champion, is widely regarded as the man to beat in the hard-fought match sprint tournament that takes place over three days on August 4-6.
Although Bauge expects to meet other challengers from Germany and Australia, he believes the big battle could be with Britain’s Jason Kenny, the silver medal winner in Beijing whom he beat to the world title in Melbourne four months ago.
For the Frenchman of Caribbean origin, it’s time to show who’s boss.
“It will be the chance to put things back in their proper order,” Bauge said Monday when asked about his anticipated battle with the British.
Following rules changes in the wake of the 2008 Games, Kenny is Britain’s sole sprint representative after defending champion Sir Chris Hoy was instead picked for the team sprint and the keirin. But despite being awarded Bauge’s 2011 world title after the Frenchman was sanctioned for missing a series of anti-doping controls, Kenny has yet to beat Bauge in a major final.
At the April world championships in Melbourne, Kenny sprung a tactical surprise in his final against the Frenchman by attacking from the off in the second ride.
“I’d consider doing anything that would help me win within the rules; it’s an option but he’s not someone who’s going to be easy to fool twice,” Kenny said.
Asked who he would prefer to meet if he reaches the final, Bauge said: “It doesn’t change anything for me.
“Kenny is still a formidable opponent. He won silver at the worlds, silver at the 2008 Games and was world champion… I think I’ve got the edge over him, because he’s never beaten me.”
Bauge is also part of the three-man team sprint along with Kevin Sireau and Michael d’Almeida that will battle for gold on the opening day of track cycling on Thursday.
And despite Germany, Australia and Britain being expected to shine in the three-lap power event, he believes France is ready to pounce.
“There will be some nice opportunities for us to show what we can do this week on the track. Let’s hope it’s us, and not them, who emerge with the biggest smiles.
“I’m feeling good, I don’t have any niggles. I think I’m quite simply ready to roll.”