Cameron: Brits are fast because they pedal hard

Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday that Britain's Olympic cycling glory has driven France "mad", and rejected claims of cheating by pointing out that the riders' wheels are made across the Channel.

Cameron: Brits are fast because they pedal hard
Harry Metcalfe

"We've got a system that seems to be delivering. It's driving the French mad," Cameron told BBC radio in an interview.

"I did an interview with French television yesterday and they virtually accused us of cheating.

"I think they found the Union Jacks on the Champs Elysees a bit hard to take," he said, referring to Briton Bradley Wiggins' victory last month in the
Tour de France.

In the interview with France 2 television broadcast on Wednesday evening, Cameron laughed off French suspicions about the hosts' stellar success in the
velodrome at the London Games.

"The French should know our secret because you make our wheels," Cameron said, referring to the French manufacturer Mavic.

"You know they're round. They go fast because they pedal hard," he added, laughing.

The British team took seven out of the 10 titles in the velodrome, prompting French technical director Isabelle Gautheron to say she was "perplexed" by the success and leading to calls on social networking sites of cheating.

A majority (70 percent) of 50,000 people who responded to a question in the sports newspaper L'Equipe about whether the British were "tainted by cheating"
also said they suspected foul play.

But Cameron said: "I think that it's unfair to think that just because someone wins you have to doubt it. The first reaction should be to say, 'well
done, congratulations'.

"I understand that for France, which is a great cycling nation, that it must be a bit hard to take but we have really done well and I'm sure that if France had won we would have been happy for you," he added, still smiling.

Britain's success has been seen as the perfect response to French President Francois Hollande's quip early in the Games that the British had rolled out
the red carpet for French winners after early successes, notably in the pool.

At the time, France were ahead of Britain in the medal table but the host nation has more than made up ground and now occupies third spot behind China
and the United States with 48 medals, including 22 gold.

France has 28, including eight gold, and is sixth in the table.

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What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?

The French government is keen to encourage cycling and has published a decree relating to bike commuting, but travelling on a train with a bike can still be quite complicated.

What are the rules on taking your bike on the train in France?
Photo: Jacques Demarthon/AFP

Can I commute with my bike? 

The French government is keen to encourage ‘multimode’ commuting – or people who cycle part of the way to work and take the train or bus for the rest.

On June 10th 2021, it published a decree which makes it mandatory for SNCF train stations and Paris’ RATP stations which have high numbers of passengers to provide secured parking spaces for bikes by 2024. This obligation concerns 1,133 train stations, which represent 37 percent of all train stations in France. 

How can I carry my bike on the train?

When it comes to taking a bike on longer train journeys, the rules vary depending on the type of train you are using. 

You can bring your bike, without having to disassemble it, on every TER (regional train) for free and without having to make a reservation, but keep in mind that space is limited. Since March 2021, every new trains or trains that are being renovated must have at least 8 spaces for bikes on board. 

Some TGVs (high-speed trains) and most Intercités (non high-speed national trains) offer a possibility to take your bike aboard, and in those where you can, you must make a reservation online or at the train station when you buy your ticket. 

THIS MAP allows you to check all the main long distance train lines that allow bikes on board.

When to take the train with your bike? 

In TERs, spaces for bikes are available on a first-come, first-served basis and cannot be booked, therefore it’s better not to travel during rush hours. 

You’ll find special information about when and how to travel with your bike on TGVs and Intercités on the SNCF website. 

How to reserve a spot for your bike?

For TERs, making a reservation is not possible. 

For TGVs and Intercités, if you want to travel with an assembled bike, you must make a reservation for a dedicated spot when you buy your ticket on the website . The price to add a bike on a TGV starts from 10€ and from 5€ on an Intercités. Adding a bike after you bought your ticket is not possible. 

Also, it’s important to note that you won’t be able to reserve a space for your bike when you  make a reservation from your phone on the app You can add a bike from your phone with the app Trainline

How to carry a disassembled bike?

You can carry your bike in every SNCF trains as long as it is disassembled in a bag which dimensions doesn’t exceed 90x120cm. In this case, it is considered hand luggage. 

Are trailers, tandems and cargo bikes allowed? 

Only regular bikes are accepted on trains. Carrying recumbent bikes, tricycles, tandems or trailers is not allowed. Only one train makes an exception during summer: the train Loire à Vélo, a train that goes from Nevers in the Center of France to the Atlantic Coast

Special info and tips if you want to travel by train with your bike this summer 

On the line Bretagne / TER : From June 7th to September 30th 2021, making a reservation for your bike to travel on a TER in the Bretagne région is mandatory. You will have to pay 3€ per bike and you can only reserve a ticket that includes a bike on the website

Travelling with the Train Loire à Vélo : This train that goes from the city of Orléans to Le Croisic on the Atlantic Coast is back on track. The ride is free and you don’t have to make a reservation for your bike. 

The Nouvelle-Aquitaine / La Vélodyssée service : In the Nouvelle Aquitaine region which includes Bordeaux and Biarritz, a special TER service with bikes allowed will be working from mid-July to August 2021. It will be free and without reservation, you can find some info on this map

On the line ViaRhôna / TER Lyon – Avignon : From July 3rd to September 19th, it will be possible to travel between the cities of Lyon and Avignon by train with your bike but only during week-ends and bank holidays. You must make a reservation and the price per bike will be of 3€.

La Véloscénie :  is a special itinerary for people who want to cycle between Paris and the Mont Saint-Michel and visit different places along the journey. From May to September the line from Paris to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel embarks your bikes for free.