By Karen Forman in Sydney
Few riders appeared quite as delighted as Spaniard Toni Tauler when he was presented with a cute stuffed toy kangaroo – complete with joey in pouch – during the medals ceremony for the men's pointscore at Sydney's opening round of the Track World Cup last night.
"I love Australia. I love the kangaroos and koalas," he had earlier enthused to Cyclingnews. And now he was getting his own!
"You know, we eat kangaroos in Australia."
Total expression of disbelief. "NOOOOOOO!"
"Yes, we do."
"But they are so cute and cuddling!"
Well, we hope we haven't put Tauler off his preparation for Sunday night's Madison with that little shocker! Or his lunch, for that matter.
The 33 year old from Majorca, who finished last night's pointscore with 27 points after a consistent effort , four down from winner, Kiwi Greg Henderson, was rapt with his silver medal. A pro rider on the road for 10 years before retiring after winning the Spanish time trial championship in 2006, he was only recently asked by Iles Balears to join its Six Day team and then have a go at the World Cups.
"This year I was fourth placed at the World Track Championships in Majorca and the team manager asked me to come to the track," he said. "When I was younger I have been in World Championships and also in the Sydney Games. This is my second time in Australia. I like Australia." And the kangaroos.
Tauler admitted that he had not been not expecting to do so well on Friday night. "I just started and attacked the first time, then I found I had one lap more and one lap more . . . I think it's crazy! I am retired!" He is looking forward to Sunday night's Madison and then will contest the rest of the World Cups in the national team before, hopefully, heading to Beijing for the Olympics.