Grégory Baugé, nine times world champion in track cycling, announced Sunday on France Televisions to give up the Tokyo Olympics and end his career.
The hazards linked to Covid-19 got the better of the “Tiger”: Grégory Baugé, the most successful French track driver, announced on Sunday that he would give up the Tokyo Olympics, postponed because of the pandemic, and put an end to his prestigious career marked by nine world titles in a hurry. “I have always been at 100% and I have found that I was no longer in this pattern,” explained the Guadeloupe in the Stade 2 program of France Televisions. “Since I joined Insep at the age of 17, my philosophy has always been to give my all. Overnight, I felt that I was 90% constrained, it is not enough to seek a performance at the Olympics ”.
The withdrawal of Baugé, an almost irremovable holder for fifteen years as a starter in the team speed trio, marks the end of a glorious era for the French sprint school, watched by decline. Like the 4th place, at the foot of the podium, won by the Blues during the last Worlds, in February 2020 in Berlin, during the last appearance of Baugé in a major competition.
Long driven by the triumphant symbol of the 1990s Florian Rousseau, the sculptural tracker, nicknamed the Tiger, symbolized an accomplishment: in the Olympiad leading to the Beijing-2008 Olympics in London-2012, he asserted his influence, both athletic than psychic, on the planet of sprinting, before suffering a terrible setback in the English capital.
Silver medalist in London but without having been able to worry the Briton Jason Kenny, who would again be titled in Rio four years later, Baugé rehashed what he lived, not without arguments, as an injustice. And as the prelude to the troubled period then crossed by the French sprint following the departure of coaches Florian Rousseau and Benoit Vêtu.
“A huge athlete”
But, like a phoenix, he came back after a first cut to shine on the track of the new National Velodrome. At the 2015 Worlds in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, the last to be organized in France, he quickly won his 4th individual world title, since this eternal dazed retroactively lost a crown won in 2011 due to breaches of the geolocation necessary to proceed doping controls.
The chaotic approach of the Rio Games, sanctioned by a disappointing bronze medal (his fourth Olympic podium however!), The questioning of the sprinters by the DTN of the time Vincent Jacquet, the slow pacification initiated by the new officials of the federation, prepare for the end of their career.
“I want to be an Olympic champion,” Baugé continued to say, despite the irresistible rise of another generation. After Rio and a new parenthesis, he had resigned himself to betting everything on team speed, an event in which his physiological qualities had long enabled him to compete with pure specialists. Until the truncated 2020 season and the postponement of the Olympic meeting, which should have been the fourth for the rider licensed at Créteil.
“I want to salute a huge athlete,” Michel Callot, president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), told AFP. “He brought a lot to French cycling, he was a catalyst in the reconstruction of what we wanted to do with the Olympic pole in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, a link between the old and the new generation”. Is Baugé called upon to play a role in the French track? “We must give him a little time to turn the page, consider certain training if he chooses,” replied Michel Callot. “But what is certain is that the doors of the FFC are wide open to him.”