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Bryan Coquard (Europcar) puts his Olympic rings on display on stage 8 at Langkawi
Frenchman collects third professional victory in neo-pro year
Revealing a tattoo with the Olympic rings and the words "Silver LONDON” while blazing across the finish line was Bryan Coquard's way of coming good on a challenge made with his Europcar sports director prior to travelling to Tour de Langkawi. Coquard had agreed to show the tattoo if he won a stage and he did just that in the end of stage 8 at the Malaysian race.
Coquard's tattoo means more than just ink, it's the proudest moment of his short but successful career, according to the rider who has already won three races since pulling on the Europcar colours in January of this year. Coquard's Langkawi victory comes off the back of a strong start to the year at Etoile de Bessèges, where he won two stages, finished second on another and finished up 12th overall in the general classification.
"The sprint was difficult, with a lot of fight," Coquard told Cyclingnews while catching his breath after the finish.
"At 500m Kévin Reza launched me and after at 200m I was on the wheel of Chicchi and I started my sprint. I am so happy because the win at the Tour de Langkawi has been difficult for me.
"Today, I am very happy. It's my third win for the year. It's a very good day for Europcar and for me. At the Tour de Langkawi there are many good sprinters and I'm very happy to win ahead of them. I thank the team because they have worked a lot for me. It has produced a good result today but the work preparing the sprint has been good from the beginning of the race.
"I'm very proud of this tattoo because the silver medal for me at the Olympic Games is my best memory to date," Coquard told reporters.
The young Coquard will but his passion for the boards to one side while he looks to build himself into one of the world's top sprinters. Coquard may have already taken an impressive tally of results in the opening months of his professional career but the rider who will turn 21 in April has a long way to go before he considers himself one of the 'big guns'.
"To start with a win here, even though I have won two races in France before coming here, it's very good but I don't think I'm yet at the level of these riders. I'm very young and I have to improve a lot," said Coquard.
"I don't want to sell the skin of the wolf before I kill the wolf," he added.
"For the rest of my career I will continue to try and improve, become stronger, raise my level. I still need more experience in sprinting and I still have a long way to go before I become a top sprinter."
Coquard has a four-year plan in place so he can return to the track for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. He has already shown his talent in the elite ranks after previously taking multiple junior world titles in the omnium, and while the reigning elite omnium and madison French champion was elated with his Langkawi win, an Olympic gold medal is the ultimate dream.
"I will stay with my professional team and then two years before Rio I will go back to the track. For me, it's a dream to get a gold medal at the Olympic Games so I think it's possible at Rio," he said.
Now that Coquard has achieved a stage win the rest of the tour is quite simple, at least for him. The team doesn't really have a rider in the top places for the general classification so instead he will ride with "no pressure".
"There are two remaining days at Tour de Langkawi. I came here to firstly learn and improve but in those next two days I will just try to repeat with my team what has been done today. But I will race with no pressure because now it's mission accomplished."