The French cycling team has all but accused the victorious British of cheating, saying they are suspicious about the kit and wheels being used.
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Cycling performance director Isabelle Gautheron said she had "a lot of questions" about Team GB, and suggested they were using "magic wheels", quickly hidden away after every race. "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. But we are looking a lot at the kit they use. They hide their wheels. The ones for the bikes they race on are put in wheel covers at the finish. Do they really have the wheels of Mavic, the official supplier? We know they work with McLaren," she ranted.
But yesterday Dave Brailsford, Team GB's coach – who may have sparked the row with his jokey comment to France's L'Equipe sports newspaper that they were using "special round wheels" – said the secret to success was "peaking at the right time, talented athletes, commitment and... brilliant coaching". At the heart was a focus on small margins, he said.
"We start by analysing the demands of the event we want to win. We then prioritise. Then we look at... the gap between where we are and where we want to be and how we can get there.
"If you break down everything that you need and improve every little aspect by one per cent then that can make a difference. Some things are essential – fitness, biomechanics – others are less essential but can make the difference such as posture when you sleep, using the right kind of pillow. Hygiene is extremely important because you are going to get ill a little bit less. If you put all these little things together, you are going to improve."
Cycling has also benefitted from the UK Sport funding model that gives more money to successful sports an from lottery cash.Cheating claims have been a familiar story since Team GB started to win prolifically in Beijing, Brailsford said. Sir Chris Hoy's father, Martin, said: "You've got to upset someone. It might as well be the French. They've got to look for some reason why they're underperforming."
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