LONDON (AFP) — German-born Briton Philip Hindes savored his first Olympic gold medal in his new colors Thursday then admitted to bending the rules to the extreme as Britain defended its team sprint title.
Hindes, who made the switch from Germany to Britain only a year ago, has made the demanding “man one” starting position in the three-man event his own following a series of stunning performances over one lap of the track.
But he came close to sending Britain crashing out of the competition when his front wheel skidded only seconds after he left the start gate with Jason Kenny and Sir Chris Hoy on his wheel.
The top two teams from the first round qualified for the gold medal match. And, facing the prospect of losing just a fraction of a second to his rivals with a slow start, Hindes decided on some remedial action.
“So I crashed, I did it on purpose just to get the restart, just to have the fastest ride. It was all planned really,” said Hindes.
In track cycling the rules dictate that in the event of an early crash, teams can restart their race and the UCI, when contacted by AFP, said the result would stand.
At the world championships in Melbourne Hindes, however, was blamed for an infringement in the same event which led to Britain’s relegation.
The 19-year-old said that, with so much at stake in the London Olympic velodrome, he had talked over such scenarios with the British team.
“When that happens you can lose so much time… my only chance was to crash and get the restart,” said Hindes, who admitted that neither Hoy nor Kenny had been fazed by his actions.
“I think they knew I’d done it on purpose,” he said. We were speaking yesterday,that if anything happens someone has to crash. So I did it.”
Hindes brushed himself off and in Britain’s second start of the first round Hoy came over the line in a new world record time of 0:42.747.
It put the trio into the final with France, where Britain took the gold in an improved record time of 0:42.600.
France’s national team chief for track, Isabelle Gautheron, said the team knew Hindes had crashed to obtain a restart, but that it would do nothing to change the result.
In a telephone call with AFP, she said: “It’s pretty obvious from the video pictures that he crashed to get the restart.
“There is nothing in the rules to sanction such an action. But now that 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.”