The competition which extends over four days until Sunday will also serve as a springboard for the European Championships which will take place next week in Apeldoorn in the Netherlands where the Blues will want to consolidate their Olympic quotas.
If France, a strong track nation, is already assured of lining up in most of the events at the Olympic Games, it remains to validate the qualification of the speed by women's teams (not on the program at the national level), which involves good results at the Euro and the three World Cup rounds in the following weeks.
“The Europeans remain largely a priority over the French Championships. We leave immediately for Apeldoorn and the following week we continue to Australia for the first round of the World Cup which will then pass through Hong Kong and Milton in Canada. It’s been a hell of a lot of months of competition and travel. You will have to be careful because it is extremely tiring,” insists Mathilde Gros, world champion in individual speed in 2022 and star of the French track.
The Provençale will be in the running from Thursday to defend her national title in the sprint in a competition whose interest also lies in the fact that it is organized in the Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines velodrome where she dreams of adorning herself with 'gold next August.
“We know every slat of this track by heart. We know exactly where to accelerate, when to brake, the limit of the speed we can have to avoid falling. And that is more than a strength from the point of view of the Games,” she emphasizes.
Like the French sprint as a whole, whether for women or men, Mathilde Gros remains in a disappointing World Championships last August in Glasgow where she lost her world title. “These were not at all the expected results,” she concedes. There has been a lot of movement lately in the staff of the French sprint team and it is important to find a certain serenity because it is not going to get better with the pressure of the Games.
Upon returning from Scotland, a reorganization of the sprint sector was in fact driven by Florian Rousseau, triple Olympic champion today director of the Olympic program, with the arrival in the management of Gérard Quintyn, his coach from the belle époque , and that of the former sprint queen Félicia Ballanger with Mathilde Gros.
As for Grégory Baugé, although he has been confirmed as national sprint coach, he no longer takes care of Sébastien Vigier on a daily basis. The double European speed and keirin champion in 2022 is now trained by Alexandre Prudhomme.
“I needed a break to get back on the right foot. If you don't work well with someone, there's no point in forcing yourself to stay with that person. Greg is a good trainer but humanly, we were not connected,” explains the Ile-de-France resident who will defend his title of French speed champion on Friday in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, also already dreaming very strongly of the big meeting. you of the summer.
The program for the finals: Thursday: women's team pursuit, men's team pursuit, women's sprint. Friday: men's omnium, women's omnium, men's sprint, women's keirin. Saturday: women's individual pursuit, men's individual pursuit, women's 500 m, women's American , men's keirin, men's American. Sunday: men's kilometer, men's points race, women's points race.