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17 Oct 1968
Mexico 1968

Time trial and tandem gold for cycling supremo Trentin

The outstanding cyclist of these Games was the Frenchman Pierre Trentin. He was 24 years old, and had been competing in the sport for a decade. For years, he juggled two passions – on the one hand, the training and preparation needed to be a top cyclist; on the other, the similar effort that he put into becoming a leather craftsman.

He established his own leather business, but his heart still focused on his dreams of taking on the world on the cycle track. For it was the short distances that fascinated Trentin. While so many of his contemporaries were glued to road racing – particularly, of course, the annual Tour de France – Trentin focused on speed and power. At the age of 17, he won the French junior championship and three years later he took a bronze medal in the 1km time trial at the Tokyo Olympics.

It was in Mexico, though, that he blossomed. He won three medals in Mexico City and established himself as the sport's star of the Games. His finest victory came in the time trial, the first of the track events. Trentin was not the favourite – that burden went to Denmark's Niels Fredborg, who had been crowned world champion in both 1967 and 1968.

It was a fast track, and the altitude suggested the times would be very quick. They were. Gianni Sartori set the early pace with a time of 1 min 04.65secs, smashing the Olympic record. Fredborg followed and dropped that record another 0.04secs, taking the lead and equalling the world record. Others came near – Poland's Janusz Kierzkowski split Sartori and Fredborg's times, but then came Trentin, the 24th of 32 riders to start, and immediately setting a fearsome pace. At the line, he had knocked a cavernous 0.7secs off Fredborg's time, extending the world record and seizing gold.

Another gold came in the tandem, in which Trentin and partner Daniel Morelon were imperious, and he won a bronze in the sprint – a race that was won by his friend Morelon.

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