London Spy

Team GB success leaves French ‘perplexed’

London Spy

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While British fans have been enjoying a bevy of golds at the London Olympics, our friends across the Channel seem to be having a hard time rationalising Team GB's success.

Fans and officials have been left baffled by just how well our athletes are doing. And nowhere more so than in the Velodrome, with France's track cycling team director Isabelle Gautheron suggesting that British stars such as Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy are using 'Magic Wheels'.

"We are asking a lot of questions: how have they gained so many tenths of seconds? Have they found a new training process based on certain energy pathways? I am not talking about any illicit product, because anti-doping tests are so strong," a perplexed Gautheron told L'Equipe.

"Honestly, we are looking a lot at the kit they use. It is not yet time to analyse, though. It's all over for these Games.

"They hide their wheels a lot. The ones for the bikes they race on are put in wheel covers at the finish (of a race). Do they really have (official supplier) Mavic wheels? We know that they work with McLaren."

British Cycling performance director Dave Brailsford laughed at the French line of questioning.

"It's interesting that people are starting to ask questions. It's no different from when we raced the last three and a half weeks at the Tour de France," he said.

"It's the same method, the same philosophy and essentially fantastic coaching which is the only secret weapon we possess. As far as the Olympic Games go, only two weeks are important: one week in Beijing, one week here. And we've peaked for both."

Question marks have also been raised about Jessica Ennis. Thierry Vautrat, a journalist with Ouest France, tweeted after her win in the Heptathlon: "Ennis? She's a bit unreal. Wonder how she could win the (final event) 800m so easily, with no pain. Surprising."

Britain's performances in cycling and rowing also started trending in France on Twitter with French fans unhappy about how Britain were allowed restarts in both events.

L'Equipe said that perceived favouritism towards the hosts had left "a great part of the public and TV viewers incredulous".

Meanwhile, Le Monde noted how French internet users "exasperated by the turn of events in the men's pairs rowing final on Saturday, reinvented the rules of the Olympic sports in favour of representatives of her gracious majesty".

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