LONDON, England ● The French Cycling Federation has demanded a change in the rules after Philip Hindes admitted deliberately crashing to help Great Britain’s chances of gold at London 2012.
Sir Chris Hoy won his fifth Olympic gold medal as the British trio of Hindes, Hoy and Jason Kenny stormed to team sprint gold on the first day of action in the velodrome. However, the triumph was marred when German-born Hindes admitted crashing on purpose to give his side the best possible chance of victory.
In the qualifying round against Germany, Hindes – the man to lead the team over the first lap – appeared to lose control of his bike and fell awkwardly as the team entered the first bank.
The trio were granted a restart on the grounds of a mechanical favour, and they went on to grab gold in a world record time, beating France in the final.
However, questions were raised over the legitimacy of Britain’s success after Hindes, who replaced Jamie Staff in the team that won team gold in Beijing, admitted crashing on purpose after getting off to a poor start during the first heat.
“We were saying if we have a bad start we need to crash to get a restart,” Hindes said in the post-race interview with the BBC. “I just crashed; I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride. I did it. So it was all planned.”
British Cycling said Hindes’ comments were “lost in translation”, with the 19-year-old only learning English when he moved to Manchester to train with British Cycling in 2010. Hindes later backtracked on his comments, saying in the press conference: “No. I just went out the gate and just lost control, just fell down,” he said. “My back wheel slipped and totally lost control and I couldn’t handle the bike anymore and just crashed.”
France, who were forced to settle for silver after the trio of Gregory Bauge, Michael D’Almeida and Kevin Sireau were beaten in the final, grudgingly accepted the defeat but called for the International Cycling Union to make changes to the rules.
“It’s pretty obvious from the pictures that Hindes crashed to get the restart,” French team boss Isabelle Gautheron told AFP. “There is nothing in the rules to sanction such an action. But now he’s come out and said it, I hope the authorities consider making a change to the rules. We’re still bitter to have lost the final.”