Post-event interviews are routine affairs at the Olympic Games. The athletes are shepherded from paddock to paddock as they answer numerous questions - although usually the same ones - before a mass-press conference is held after the medal ceremonies. The athletes enter, the press ask their questions, the riders leave, and journalists scuttle back to their laptops as they attempt to meet deadlines. It's a tried and tested formula.
But the men's sprint press conference broke from type as silver medallist Grégory Baugé became the interviewer, peppering gold medallist Jason Kenny with questions regarding the rider's preparations for the Games.
Heading into the event Kenny, who was selected ahead of defending champion Chris Hoy, had never beaten Baugé in their previous two meetings in major championships. However, after setting the fastest time in qualifying and sauntering through his heats, a match-up with the French world champion awaited in the final. Could the upstart upstage the maestro of match sprinting or could the Frenchman derail British success on the track?
In the end Kenny won the first two rounds, beating Baugé into second place with greater speed and guile. Game set and match.
The crowds cheered, Pat McQuaid handed out the medals and the volume knob was turned up so we could all hear the never-ending loop of God Save the Queen. The formula remained intact.
But after taking to the press conference stage Baugé raised his hand, asking if he could ask a question. To Kenny. There was an odd silence, the press corps' ears pricked up as Baugé opened with his first move. It was a slow motion replay of their race, with three questions, three answers and a mostly home-based crowd to cheer them on.
"From Beijing you were silver in 2008 and the same in the world championships the following year and you prepared for four years for today. So how did you prepare?"
A slight subtext, but yesterday the French cycling federation's national technical director Isabelle Gautheron pondered the startling success of the Great Britain team on the track. She was clear that no doping innuendo was implied and Baugé, with a smile on his face as he questioned Kenny, was just - or perhaps more - as inquisitive as his director. Kenny gave a measured response, pointing to the work he had done in training. But Baugé wasn't finished. He then pointed out that he'd beat Kenny in the Poland World Championships in 2009, which Kenny matched with a laugh and joke, before Baugé fired off his final question.
"If I understand, you'll relax for the next four years and then when it comes to Rio you'll be on top again, right?"
"Not at all," replied Kenny. "The Games is the main one for us but for me, I still want to win world championships. They mean a lot for me as a rider. So I'll just go forward."
Finally, the press corps was given a chance and as expected the first question came to Baugé, who was asked by one journalist why he was asking Kenny such questions with a smirk on his face.
Through a translator Baugé answered: "Because he beat me. I prepared for Games in my own way so I wanted to know how he prepared for the Games."
Baugé was disappointed with silver. In his two Olympic Games (2008 & 2012) he has picked up three silvers, missing an elusive gold to complete what has been a glittering career.
"I've got nothing to say," he had said immediately after his final with Kenny.
"I've done my sprint, I think I haven't made any mistake along the two matches. This is sport, small details worked in his favour. I have no regrets. I don't like losing. This is a defeat in a big event, it angers me. This is a failure for me personally. It is four years that I've dominated in my discipline. I wanted gold, it's a disappointment. I do not train twice a day for this disappointment. We have to look at the big picture. I've reached five finals in big events in four years, I'm the world champion, I'm still the No.1, he beat me, unfortunately. I've lost them both, a nil. There's nothing else to say. I don't think Kenny is stronger than me."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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