Cycling never ceases to amaze me; Frenchman Kevin Sireau’s 200 metre record of 9.572 seconds set in Moscow in 2009 looked ‘on the shelf’ – as did his compatriot Arnaud Tournant’s kilometre record of 58.875 set in La Paz in 2001.
But one man didn’t just break both records within virtually hours of each other – he destroyed them.
François Pervis rode a 9.347 for the 200 to take two tenths off Sireau’s time – a huge margin at this level.
And not satisfied with that, he then took two-and-a-half seconds off Tournant’s time in winning the kilometre, also in the Aguascalientes World Cup meeting, in an incredible 56.303.
Pervis first appears on the world track radar screen in 2001 in the winning French team in the European Junior Team Sprint Championship.
Since then he’s been a towering figure on the world’s velodromes in the individual and team sprints, keirin and the discipline in which he’s world champion – the kilometre.
His complete palmares would take too long to list so we’ve taken what we think is the strongest from each season:
- 2002 – World Junior Team Sprint Champion & European Junior Kilometre Champion.
- 2003 – European Elite Team Sprint Champion.
- 2004 – European U23 Kilometre Champion.
- 2005 – French Kilometre Champion.
- 2006 – 3rd World Kilometre Championship.
- 2007 – 2nd World Kilometre Championship.
- 2008 – 3rd World Kilometre Championship.
- 2009 – 2nd World Keirin Championship.
- 2010 – 3rd World Kilometre Championship.
- 2011 – 3rd World Kilometre Championship.
- 2012 – French Sprint Champion.
- 2013 – World Kilometre Champion with bronze medals in the team sprint and sprint, for good measure.
Unlike ‘some other websites’ we didn’t just quote L’Equipe, we spoke to the man direct – here’s what he had to say to VeloVeritas upon his return to France after his record breaking spree.
Congratulations, François on two great rides; but you seemed to know before you went to Mexico that you would ride well – how?
“I had very good condition since the World Cup in Manchester one month before.
“My times every day during my training were good and that gave me confidence.”
Tell us about your warm up routines please – how big a part is the mental side?
“I tried a lot of different warm up routines during the last 12 years and I found the best one for me just last year.
“But, I can’t tell you more about it, sorry!
“The mental is very important in my sport – for the kilometre or for a battle with another rider in an individual sprint you must never give up!”
What gearing did you have for the two rides – I heard that for the kilometre you feel you could have geared higher?
“Everybody asks me this question about my gear but I can’t tell you – only my coach and my mechanic know what they were.
“Yes for my kilometre I hesitated before my race and considered going bigger than usual.
“But I didn’t; my leg speed was higher compared to my usual so I do think I can go faster.”
Is your Look a standard machine – could anyone buy one like it?
“Yes, of course you can buy the same bike!
“But if you don’t have the money for it, I suggest to you the track bike of S1neo that you can customise, have a look here.”
Which tyres were you on and at what pressure?
“I think I had Vittorias on and the pressure I don’t know very well because it´s my mechanic who decides that – it but may be around 12 or 13 bars.”
How do you ride a kilometre – in the old days you went out fast, ‘cruised’ the middle part then tried to drive the last lap – is it still like that ?
“I’ve experimented with a lot of ways of riding them these last 12 years to try and find the best method (“gestion” we say in French).
“And I think I found it found two years ago in Cali when I did 1’00″075 my best time for a kilometre.
“But again, I can’t tell you about it – I think you can understand why?”
17.671/12.418/12.732/13.482 splits – do you think you can ride that last lap faster and dip below 56?
“It´s a difficult question to answer but I think if I had ran with a bigger gear I could go a little faster in my second, third and last laps; maybe only 0.1 seconds, but enough to dip below 56″.”
Can you tell us about wattages?
“I don’t know – for the last two years I haven’t use SRM’s.”
Tell us about the track.
“It’s at altitude, around 1.800m altitude.
“I had conditions of 28 degrees and 30% humidity for my ride – so it was perfect!
“The track has long straights and very short corners.
“You have very good sensations when you enter in the corner ‘full gas’ – there’s big G-force on you and I like that!”
Were you surprised to beat the record by such a huge margin – what was your previous best?
“Yes it was a big surprise!
“I thought I could do around 58.5 – maybe a little bit better.
“But I wasn’t sure sure because we didn’t know what the track could give us.
“Sir Chris Hoy sent me a tweet and said me: “you can make 56!”
“I didn’t believe him because a 56 is too fast – but at that point we didn’t know the track very well.
“My best time before was 1.00.075 at Cali in December 2011 during World Cup.”
Has Arnaud Tournant been in touch?
“No, he never does; we are not friends.
“He never congratulated me after my world title – and now I’ve beat his world record . . . “
Tournant rode in La Paz which is much higher than Aguascalientes – have you thought about what might be possible there?
“A crazy time!
“If the track is still to the same standard as it was when he rode I think I can gain two seconds maybe – but it´s very difficult to say.”
What’s the next target?
“The world championship in February in Cali!”
You must be disappointed there’s no longer an Olympic kilometre?
“Yes of course – I’m still disappointed and very sad about that!
“It´s a big mistake because the kilometre is the ultimate physical and mental ordeal to achieve excellence!
“But we can always hope it will come back in the Olympic program.”
Tell us a little about your training – how much on the track/road/in gym?
“Each week I do three gym sessions, four sessions on the road and four times on the track.”
And was there Champagne when you got home?
“No, I never drink alcohol – I prefer Nutella to celebrate with!”