France fills one Olympic road spot with track sprinter

The French Cycling Federation (FFC) has come up with a unique solution to fulfill its goal of having a full track cycling squad at the 2012 Olympic Games in London this summer: it has included track sprinter Mickaël Bourgain on its road team so that he can take advantage of a rule that allows athletes to cross disciplines.

That leaves Sylvain Chavanel, Arnaud Demare and Tony Gallopin as the main riders for the road race in London, although Bourgain will be forced to compete in the event. Replacements for the road race are Thomas Voeckler and Arthur Vichot.

Bourgain will now be able to join his track teammates Grégory Bauge, Kevin Sireau and Mickael d'Almeida, who will contest the team sprint at the Olympic velodrome. Bauge will take on the individual sprint. Since France had filled its quota of riders for the track events, Bourgain had to be included in the road team before he would be allowed to compete in the keirin.

"Either we don't pick him, and that wouldn't be fair, or we select him for the road," said FFC president David Lappartient according to AFP. "The proposal came from the Olympic squad's technical director and was accepted by the FFC."

The move follows a similar tactic from the Germans, who put Robert Forstemann on the Olympic mountain bike team in order to have an extra rider for the track team sprint.

"This is in no way designed to devalue the road racing team," said Lappartient. "But Bourgain has legitimately qualified for the Games and, since he is a real medal hope, it would not have been correct to act otherwise."

"I am happy with the selection," Chavanel said. "I am very motivated. It is always important to defend the colors of my country in the most important sporting event in the world. The track of the time trial is more or less good for me. I think I can do a good race. Even on the road, there are only three riders on the French team for the road, which makes it difficult to control, but I like this kind of race."

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