Championnats européens 2022 : surpuissant sur la piste, habile sur la route… Benjamin Thomas, le 4×4 du cyclisme français

Championnats européens 2022 : surpuissant sur la piste, habile sur la route... Benjamin Thomas, le 4x4 du cyclisme français

He arrived in Bavaria with a record of six continental titles. He leaves with eight. Benjamin Thomas achieved the French performance of these first European Championships, in track cycling, on Friday August 12, by winning two gold medals.

Titled for the first time in the team pursuit with teammates Quentin Lafargue, Valentin Tabellion and Thomas Denis, Benjamin Thomas returned to the top step of the podium two hours later at the end of the points race. “It really was a perfect day. To walk away with two jerseys, we couldn’t ask for better.”, also reacted after his individual victory. A perfect day for this. “track lover”as national endurance coach Steven Henry calls it, who has also had one foot on the road since 2015.

A graduate of cycling since the age of 5, Benjamin Thomas shone in his first year in the elite on the hoops by winning the points race at the 2014 European Championships. This title marked the beginning of a long list of achievements: in eight years , the native of Lavaur (Tarn) won no less than four world titles, eight European ones, an Olympic bronze medal and two French champion titles on the road, against the clock.

“Benjamin is a hard worker, he gives himself the means to succeedexplains François Pervis, track cycling world champion and consultant for France Télévisions. “It’s nice to be with him, because despite his seriousness, he’s a mess.adds who worked with him from 2014 to 2019. He knows how to make friends laugh and has a unifying side. He inspires confidence easily.”

On the track, Benjamin Thomas impresses with his racing intelligence. “He is very strong in strategy and in taking information”, emphasizes Steven Henry, when François Pervis greets “his cunning” and his “Exceptional racing sense.”

His temperament and experience naturally made him the leader of the French track runners. A role that the Tarnais takes to heart, but that does not go to his head. “It’s a sport where things can change quickly. You lose more than you win, and Benjamin knows it. When he’s on the court, it’s a game.” Steven Henry insists.

If Benjamin Thomas has become the locomotive of French cyclists over time, he has also managed to make a name for himself in road cycling. Double French time trial champion (2019 and 2021), the Cofidis rider has reached a milestone this season: for the first time he shone twice in stage races, winner of the Etoile de Bessèges and the Boucles de la Mayenne, he did not finish far from the feat in the 15th stage of the Tour de France, reached by the peloton less than 500 meters from the finish in Carcassonne for his first participation in the Grande Boucle.

Retired in the 500 meters by the horde of sprinters, the regional of the stage Benjamin Thomas was very close to triumphing in the Tour.

L’“track lover” estimate that “the two are complementary” and it is not Steven Henry who is going to contradict him: “The big days he does on the roads allow him to build stamina, land and reproduce the efforts.”

Putting together a team pursuit and a 45-minute points race in less than two hours did not seem to be a problem for the Tarnais. “Now that he’s on a World Tour, he’s picking up momentum. He has great roller qualities and a burst of speed that serve him well on the track”, sums up François Pervis, admired. “It’s rare to be competitive in both disciplines. Only great champions like Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish or Stuart O’Grady have achieved this feat.”

Benjamin Thomas has ambitions to join this very restricted club. At almost 27 years old, the quadruple track world champion comes of age. However, she still has room for improvement. “He is a very nice rider. In important moments, like in the Games, he has to gain a little more aggressiveness, in the positive sense of the word, to do what the British and the Dutch are doing.”stresses Steven Henry, who is working on this with his foal for Paris 2024.

Benjamin Thomas left Tokyo with only one bronze medal, the The American, with Donovan Grondin. A disappointing record for the Frenchman, who must learn to manage his emotions in very big matches. “It is possible that he did not know how to manage the expectations of the Games well. He was more stressed than usual. But this first great experience will make him grow. He has the ingredients to succeed in all the records of ‘endurance’.”says François Pervis.

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