Quentin is back from Japan. He shares with us his gorgeous experience in the land of the rising sun before the European Championship early August.
Before we talk about Japan, can you tell us how you feel and how is your preparation for the 2018 European Championship going?
Quentin Lafargue: I feel pretty good. I’m very happy to be selected. I have a challenging program as I’m in the sprint team, kilometer and keirin races. This championship is early in the season and it can give us a lot of information for the rest of the season. I can’t wait to be there!
You took part in a competition in Izu (Japan) which was in the future velodrome of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. What are your impressions ?
QL: Yes, at the beginning of July I was on the Japan Track Cup (future olympic track) in Izu. This competition was important for me as there are many information to collect for the future. I liked the velodrome shape because conditions are great to go fast. At this stage of my training, I had good impressions. I also discovered the future olympic site and a new country: Japan!
How did the competition go and what about the level?
QL: The competition went well. I qualified for the keirin small final on the first day, then for the big final on the 2nd day where I finished 4th. On the last day, I finished 7th of the sprint tournament and got eliminated by Seb (S. Vigier) in the ¼ final. My time of 9’’87 reassured me. It had been a long time since I went below 9’’90. I believe that before the next European competition I can continue to progress.
There were many different levels in this grand prix. Australians, New-Zealanders, Dutch, Japanese were in great shape. When you look at their times, it was like a world cup meeting.
Before the competition you were in a camp over there with the French team. It was your first time in the land of the rising sun, did you like it?
QL: We got there 10 days before the competition? We took our time to discover the whole of the velodrome and to evaluate commuting distances in preparation for the Olympic Games. We discovered Japanese culture which is very different from ours and food. Mathilde Gros (member of the French sprint team) had been there for 2 months already for keirin. She was of great help.
Can you tell us about the Japanese keirin school?
QL: I was lucky to be invited to visit the keirin school. It’s an institution in Japan. It can be compared to the PMU (betting) in France. There are many keirin competitors and there are many bets. Any competitor must validate its diploma in that school before taking part in races. They learn Japanese keirin rules, how it works and its various strategies. Rules are quite different from the international ones that we know. In Japan, a keirin meeting has 9 racers where we have 6 at international level. Every year, international racers receive invitations to participate in the Japanese keirin season. I hope to be granted this opportunity one day!
Finally, a word on the football World Cup and its broadcasting in a national velodrome totally packed…
QL: When I got back from Japan, I watched the football world cup matches. I specifically watched the final game on a huge screen at the velodrome with a couple of friends. The atmosphere was fantastic. 6 000 people were there and France became world champion. It’s a great victory that gives ideas.