Grégory Baugé, who claimed his third sprint Gold medal at last week's Track Worlds in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, now targets his first Olympic Gold at the London Olympics in 2012. The French rider told L'Equipe that an Olympic consecration would be a significant highlight of his career, even more so at the tender age of 27.
"It's not the third title that counts - the important thing is to win," he said after receiving the honours. "It's an enormous satisfaction. This title isn't more beautiful than the first (2009), but I continue to progress. I am not Olympic champion yet, but that is my goal."
After his victorious ride, Baugé saluted two-time Olympic sprint champion Jens Fiedler seated in the public - a way for the Frenchman to affirm his status and pride. "It meant to say that it's me, Grégory Baugé. I'm 26 years old, I'm black, French but originally from Guadeloupe, and I'm three times world champion. I am part of the elite that has marked the sprint," he proudly said.
Next year, in London, Baugé will naturally be the great favourite for the sprint crown, and he felt very confident. "Honestly, I have no fear [of losing - ed.]. I was a favourite, here, too. I am still hungry.
"But to me, it's not the jersey that is the real goal. It's to stand up against the sprinters who pretend to be the best and to beat them on D-Day. That's what's really good."
As a teenager, Baugé started riding racing on the road, but then opted for the track. "I had fun in the finale, when you had to ride up to the front of the peloton to do the sprint. I loved to win.
"[But] I think a road career would have been difficult for me with my skin colour; the scene is not ready for it yet," he added, alluding to latent racism in the pro peloton.
But the track sprint king did not rule out a possible match against the currently fastest road sprinter, Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), who moreover is no stranger to the track. "That would be awesome, a sprint against him on the road," Baugé replied when asked if he thought he could beat him. "I think I'd beat him, yes. But I would need adapted material - a road bike is less stiff than our bikes. I would be afraid of putting out all I have."