PARIS (Reuters) - Despite the fuss surrounding their rivalry, Gregory Bauge will not be drawn into speculation about a possible sprint showdown with Chris Hoy in the London Olympics.
Frenchman Bauge took the world title in 2009, 2010 and won the 2011 final but was stripped of his title after a ban for failing to provide information about his whereabouts for possible doping tests.
Briton Hoy, the 2008 Olympic champion, was the strongest man in their quarter-final duel at the London track World Cup event last month but it failed to dent the French camp’s confidence, even if the four-times Olympic champion said he had never felt that strong since the Beijing Games.
“It will be a tough competition. I’m not thinking about Chris Hoy only,” Bauge told reporters when the French cycling federation unveiled their objectives for the July 27-August 12 Olympics.
“There will be other rivals so let’s not just think about Hoy only,” added France coach Florian Rousseau.
Bauge appeared in London to be the only rider in a position to unsettle the powerful Hoy, sending their tie into a nail-biting decider.
Bauge and Hoy had to re-start after the Frenchman was adjudged to have rolled backwards from a standstill position. Then Hoy stole the inside line and held off Bauge in the home straight, being declared the winner after a photo finish.
Semi-final and final opponents, Germans Robert Foerstemann and German Maximilian Levy, were dismissed in awe-inspiring fashion in two legs.
French federation president David Lappartient was confident Bauge has what it takes to help France “make La Marseillaise, not God Save The Queen, the summer’s chart-topper”.
“Hoy won (in London) but we can also see it the other way: Bauge took a leg from Hoy while riding in only his second competition (of the season),” Lappartient said.
Bauge and Hoy may square up again in the April 4-8 world championships in Melbourne.
“I’m pretty confident, training has been going well, London went well and I’m confident the work I’ve been doing with (coach) Florian (Rousseau) will pay off,” said Bauge, who added his ban was now behind him.
“It’s in the past now. The London test event put me back on the right track.”
Bauge was handed a retroactive one-year ban starting on December 23, 2010, for failing to provide his whereabouts to anti-doping authorities on three occasions.
He was stripped of his individual sprint world title and France also lost their team sprint world gold medal.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by John Mehaffey