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Timoko takes honours in speed cycling match

09 August 2017

Racing, oddly, is not always about beating the best horse on the track. On Tuesday last, fifteen-times Group 1 trotting winner Timoko proved the point as he took on professional cyclist Romain Guillemois, from the Direct-Energie team, in a match at Langon, close to Bordeaux in the southwest of France.
This was a contest which was scheduled for 2016 but had to be cancelled at the last minute, but once rescheduled, the world and his wife was in place to witness one of the more entertaining challenges two diverse sporting giants had to offer. Similar contests have taken place in the past with no trotter ever coming off second best, however Cyril Dessel (of AG2R La Mondiale) came closest to ending that streak after dead-heating with the speedy Petit Colonel in 2011.

It was no surprise then that Richard Westerink’s ten year-old was sent off favourite for this best-of-three contest, which was staged between the seventh and eight races on the card. While it was very much an amicable affair, it was nonetheless a great moment in sport, given the achievements of both cyclist and horse.

In the first heat, Guillemois headed Timoko, but by little. “I need to extract the precise data from my metre, but once I got seated I saw we were going at 55kph,” and from the stands, the sense of speed was nothing short of striking. Timoko dominated the second leg, and in the third and deciding stage, the recent Elitlopp winner pulled something extra out of the bag and was never going to be caught. Said Westerink after the competition, “That was great fun. There was a fantastic ambience and it was a super spectacle to witness. As for Timoko, he is like a colt. He may be stacking up the years but it feels as if he’s getting younger. He’s having fun. Everyone else is having fun. Objective achieved!”

President of Langon-Libourne racecourse, Franck Marquette, was also suitably satisfied. “The racecourse was packed. Since entry was free it is hard to be precise about the numbers, but the parking lots were filled and significant numbers from the cycling world made the trip for this match.” The numerous Timoko fans were sporting his blue and black colours, but there was no shortage of the black and yellow of the Direct-Energie colours either.

Picture: Timoko and cyclist Romain Guillemois at Langon on Tuesday