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BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

Interview: Quentin Lafargue

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The 1km TT is undoubtably the toughest event in track cycling, you’ve got to start fast and finish even faster!  It’s also one of the events linked with the most controversy, not only about how to train for it or what makes a good kilo rider, but also since it was removed from the Olympic program after 2004, something that has angered and frustrated the track cycling community since.

Quentin Lafargue is the current world champion in this event, and we interview the French rider about his successes, perseverance, his training advise, and his future goals.

 

How did you get into track cycling?
I began cycling in 2003, and I tried track cycling a year later in 2004 when I was 13 years old.  I really liked to practice track cycling because of the speed, and also because I won one race quite early.  After one win, you want to win another, and you train more and more, to be better and better!!

 

How does it feel to be World Champion and wear the rainbow jersey?
It’s unbelievable!!  I dreamed of this moment many many times since I wore this jersey as a Junior.  It was a very long time!  I like this feeling!  I can wear this jersey every day for training, and I can’t wait to wear the world champ jersey in competition soon!
(Quentin wore this jersey a week after completing this interview at the French National Champs)

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

You are part of one of the most successful teams in track cycling, the French Team, how has the set-up and experienced riders helped you to your success?
There is a very big tradition in France of track cycling.  I myself have trained with many successful athletes since I was a junior, like Arnaud Tournant, Gregory Baugé, Kevin Sireau, and now with the young generation with Sebastien Vigier, Mathilde Gros, and Rayant Helal.
For me, that is the strength of the French Team!  We are many riders, so you have to train very hard to earn your place in this team.  It helps me to train my mind and never give up!  It’s not always good, but you have to keep training, and if you are serious, maybe once, you’ll get the opportunity to fight for a World Champion title!!

 

You were junior world champion in Cape Town in 2008, how do you stay motivated to win another title more than 10 years later?
Yes!!  It was a very important moment in my career!  Between 2008 and 2019, I continued to train and win some medals at the European and World Championships.  It helped me to stay motivated every day for 10 years.  And now, I know I have title to keep doing that!  And I can continue to do that, because there are a lot of goals to come this year!!

 

What would you say is your best characteristic for success?
I think it’s that I never give up.  I have one sentence that I say to myself very often “Works will always pay off one day, you just have to never stop to believing”
I trust in my team and I work very hard every day.  I think this determination helps me to stayed focused and keep working hard.

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

What would you say is the most important training technique?
For the 1km TT, the standing start is the most important part. You have to work a lot this part because you need be as efficient as possible.  Because after that, you still have 3 and a half laps to go!!  So, it’s very important to save as much of your energy as you can, even while going very fast at the same time.  The perfect technique will help you to do that.

 

Tell us what makes you such a good 1km TT rider?
I think I am a resilient sprinter since I was young.  I worked hard to stay resilient and to improve my start.  After that, you have to learn to master the entire effort.  You also need to manage your sprint to be able to finish the last lap as fast as you can!  That’s my strategy!

 

What gear do you normally use?
In track cycling this is secret!  My gear is not the same every time and I can’t tell you what is it.  Not too big because there is a standing start, and not to small because, you need to have good gear after one lap to accelerate again!

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

What advice would you give someone training for the 1km TT?  What is more important for you, the start of the last lap?
To be a good Kilo rider, you have to work on all parts of the race.  But I think the most important is your resilience.  And to work on that, it’s not the type of training that sprinters like, it’s lactic training!!

 

What is a typical day like for Quentin Lafargue?
I train twice a day.  I wake me up at 7h30am, I have my breakfast, I go to the velodrome to train at 9h30/10am.  I train for 2h or 2h30.  After that, I have lunch, a short nap, and then I go to train at 3pm to 6pm again.  After that, I go to the ice bath or massage or some recuperation and I can go back home at 7pm.

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

What are you interests outside of cycling?
Cycling is a big part of my life, I love that.  But I like to discover other disciplines.  I bought a new bike recently.  That’s a Gravel Bike!  I love this type of cycling.  It’s more Fun and good for my training sometimes.
Outside of cycling, I like to relax at home with Laurie Berthon, my girlfriend for 11years.
I am very passionate of sneakers too with my friend Melvin Landerneau!  Haha!  I buy some limited-edition pairs every year.

 

Where is your favorite place to train?  And what do you like about it?
Saint Quentin en Yvelines is a very good place to train!  The Track is amazing!  But for the weather, I think Hyères is also a good place to train in France.
I think Japan is also a very good place to train!  It’s a very nice country.  I spoke a lot with Francois Pervis and Mathlide Gros about this place and I hope so much to do the keirin in Japan one day!!

 

What is next for Quentin Lafargue?  What event will you be targeting since the 1km TT is not an Olympic event?   And what are your plans for life after cycling?
Next season will be very important to qualify to the Olympic Games.  This year, I was in the French team sprint, and we finished 2nd at the World Championships.  I will try to continue to be fast in the team sprint this year.
In individual event, I like the keirin, and I will try to qualify myself for the Olympics Games in Keirin too.
After Cycling, I don’t know yet what I will do.  But I think it will be in cycling as a manager or a coach to try to give my experience to the young riders

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

BLS interview 1km TT world champion Quentin Lafargue

From your experience, what advice would you give to junior cyclists?
Believe in yourself and in your dream.  Try to surround yourself with the best people you can.  The people who will help you to become who you want to be.  And work and work again and again!!

 

Would you mind sharing some of your stats with us?
Best time Kilo: 59”845
Best time 200m: 9”76
Best time 3rd lap TS: 12”863

 

 

Please feel free to follow Quentin’s journey to the Olympic Games via his social media accounts:
Instagram: @quentinlafargue
Facebook: Quentin Lafargue Athlète

 

Interview by: Matthew de Freitas
Co-founder of BLS

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

Interview: Maximilian Levy

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He’s one of the most experienced riders you’re likely to find.  Having competed in 3 Olympic games with 3 medals, and on track for Tokyo 2020; a former World Champion, European Champion, German National Champion and the first German rider to go under 10 sec in the 200m – and to top it all off, one of the nicest people you’re likely to meet!

We interview Maximilian Levy.

How did you get into track cycling?
When I was young, I lived at Berlin and there my bike has been stolen a few times.  So I asked my parents again and again for a new one and so one day they stopped buying new bikes and sent me to a cycling club.  At the same time the Berlin Velodrome was opened and I was one of the first riders riding at this track.

 

What has been your biggest achievement to date?  Would you rate your Olympic medal, world championship title, or world record as higher?
It’s hard to bring them in line and tell you what’s more important.  All of them where hardly fought.  Even my last European title was very special after breaking my collarbone for the third time and because of this I almost retired, but I came back.  So every medal has its own story!

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

Your one of the most experienced riders around, how do you adapt to the continuous changes in track cycling?  And what would you say has changed the most in track cycling since you started? 
Well yes, everything changes but the most important things are still the same… the one with the fastest legs and the best psyche wins!  So, in fact gears are bigger than I could imagine 12 years ago.  My first Keirin World title I used 52:14. I am still very good on small gears; I can do a sub 10secs with 52:14 or 57:12.  As it’s a big range you need to train with all of them.
Crazy also equipment, at my first Olympics we still competed with normal helmets at sprint and Keirin, now everything about aero and socks until the knee.  People forget that you have to do step 1, 2 and 3 before you need to think about step 15, which could be the socks.
Rules? Yeah it’s the UCI, what do I need to say more about that?  🙂

 

You’ve been competing at the highest level for since a junior, how do you stay motivated?
I love what I do!
There are many hard moments in living as an athlete, leaving the kids alone for training camps, or injuries.
But still I feel it´s a unique life I live.  I was at every continent at this world. I met so many people on this road and as long as I feel I can improve, I feel good.

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

What would you say is your best characteristic for success?
I always want to improve and I think I always know realistic at which level I am.

 

What is your favorite event to compete in?
I like the Sprint and Keirin

 

What is a typical day like for Max Levy?
Not even one day is like the other!  I have three kids 🙂

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

What are you interests outside of cycling?
Well I watch a lot of road cycling and it was a secret desire coming true in riding the Road race at Rio Olympics.  Outside of cycling there is not too much time for other things.  It feels like even the life of my wife and kids are based on cycling and my life as a professional cyclist.

 

You have a wife and kids, how do you manage your family responsibilities and your life as a professional cyclist?
Well I do my best, but sometimes it feels like it’s not enough.  In winter time when we go race and training camps it’s the hard moments I described earlier.  I think about bringing the family to Cape Town next January… (for the annual German national team training camp)

 

You recently completed an Iron Man, tell us more about that experience?
For me it’s important to change my point of view.  So I did last year in getting vice national champion at team pursuit.  This time it was more extreme but I had the desire to do that and feel how you feel after 12 hours of competition.

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

What is something we wouldn’t know about you?
There are many things, but that’s why nobody knows 🙂

 

You come train in Cape Town every year, what do you like about it?
I like the conditions and the flair of Cape Town.  In Germany is winter at that time and it feels like a holiday where you ride your bike.  So I am always happy to there.  I also like wine. 🙂

 

What is next for Max Levy?  Your future goals, Tokyo 2020, and life after cycling?
Let´s see, I haven’t made too many long term decisions just yet.

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

From your vast experience, what advice would you give to junior cyclists? What’s the one thing you’d like younger riders to know when getting started?
Never do a standing start from the back straight!!!

 

Would you mind sharing some of your stats with us?
My best times :
200m flying: 9,563
1000m TT: 57,93
500m flying 25,38

 

Be sure to follow Maximilian Levy’s journey:
Website: https://www.maximilian-levy.de
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maximilianlevy.de/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/maximilianlevy
Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximilian_Levy

 

Interview by Matthew de Freitas
Co-founder of BLS

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview Maximilian Levy

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D'hoore

Interview: World Tour Pro – Jolien D’hoore

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We interview one of the very first ambassadors to join us; the Olympic bronze medalist, World Champion and rider for UCI professional Woman’s world tour team Boels-Dolmans from Belgium – Jolien D’hoore

 

How did you start cycling and what was your road to becoming a pro-cyclist?
I’ve started cycling by doing a summer camp for cyclists when I was 12 years old.  At that time I wasn’t a cyclist, I was into track and field but I was looking for something new.  At the end of the camp we all received a license to race.  So without knowing I could now do some bike races.  Soon I started my first race; I crashed but I decided to continue.  Every time I got better and better and I started to enjoy the feeling of winning.  I never thought about making my profession out of it until I was 18 years old and I became World Champion on the road as a junior.  My parents supported me 100% but I had to put my studies first.  So I started studying physiotherapy at the university in Ghent.  I’ve always done the combination school/cycling.  A couple of years ago I finally became a professional athlete!

 

How was it coming from the home of road cycling, Belgium?
Cycling is big in Belgium.  It’s great to ride the Belgian races on home soil.  Especially when I was wearing my Belgian champion kit.  People recognize you and support you.

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolein d'Hoore

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D’hoore

Do you prefer track or road cycling?  And what role has track cycling played in your success on the road?
I can’t choose!  I prefer to do both.  The track has given me so much bike skills and experience.  Also as a sprinter on the road I benefit from the short and explosive work I do on the track.  The other way around, road also helps to have a good endurance level to compete in the track races I’m doing (madison).

 

How do you manage both track and road seasons so well?
I’ve been doing this combination since I was 12 years old!  The year after the Olympics in Rio was the first time I skipped the track during the winter and I felt I missed something.  Mentally it’s a nice change as well.  After a long road season it’s always good to come back to the track.

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D’hoore

You medalled in the omnium in Rio 2016, do you prefer old or the new omnium format?
I prefer the old format.  Having an omnium over 2 days makes it extra tough.  Also an omnium should have some timed events.  Now it’s a bit unpredictable.  Even if you’re in shape you can still miss out on a good result, with all those bunch races.  Coming into Rio, I felt good and I knew I could have a good result because I could ride good times in training.  But this omnium makes it more like a lottery.

 

You’re also the first world champion in the woman’s Madison, how does that feel?  And do you think that the Madison will help get more girls on the track?
Belgium has a history in the madison.  Our men have so much experience and skills, so it as easy to share all that information with us.  As a kid I did lots of madison training.  And any free time we’ve got during training these days, we started to do a madison (during cool down, etc.).  So when the news came out that the madison would be a new event for the women, we were very excited because we knew we already had the skills.  I hope it helps to get more girls on the track.  Surely it’s a cool event to watch!  It’s the most beautiful discipline in my eyes: you need speed, endurance, technical skills, tactical skills – a bit of everything.

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolein d'Hoore

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D’hoore

What do you think has been the biggest factor in your success?
My family and my boyfriend.  They have been there for me from the start.  Even during the bad days they have my back.  That’s what you need as an athlete – people who support you onwards and upwards.  I’m so grateful to have them.

 

What do you think makes a champion?
Hardship, discipline, mentally strong and the will to never give up even if people telling otherwise.   It’s not only talent that makes a champion, but the eagerness to become stronger and work hard every single day.

 

What do you think of the state of woman’s cycling?  And what would you like to see change or improve?
Women’s cycling is evolving so fast.  Every year I think I had a good prep, I’m stronger than last year but everyone gets even stronger again.  They ride faster and harder every year.  Teams are getting more professional as well.  More men’s teams realize they should have a women’s team having the same kit, same bike, etc.  The only thing that’s still missing is the media coverage.  Our races can be followed via Twitter or Facebook, but no live tv coverage.  Once they start showing our races on television, sponsors would come and it would make our sport even bigger.

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D’hoore

What do you enjoy most about cycling and being a pro-cyclist? 
I just enjoy the whole package.  We have a luxury life!  We get to choose our own training hours, we have our freedom, the places my bike takes me are incredible, you travel the world, meet new people!

 

You have recently signed for a new professional team, do you enjoy being a part of a team and what made you choose this team?
Yes, cycling is a team sport.  And the results you can get as a team is so rewarding.  I’ve signed for 2 years with Boels-Dolmans.  They have set the standard for women’s cycling and are always the team to beat.  It’s an honour to defend the orange colours the next 2 years.  I’m looking forward to ride with them and hopefully contribute to their success.

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolein d'Hoore

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D’hoore

Where is your favourite place to train?  And what is you favourite part of training?
I like riding my bike in Mallorca.  But I’ve been 2 times in New-Zealand and I love this country.  Good weather, goods roads, and friendly people.  The life there is easy going and very relaxed.  The feeling you get after you have finished your scheduled training is satisfying and my favourite part of training.

 

What are your interests outside of cycling?
My interests outside of cycling are sports in general and food.  I love to spend time in the kitchen.

 

What is something we wouldn’t know about you?
I have a bachelor’s degree in physiotherapy.
I was the junior World Champion in Cape Town on the road (2008).
I’m an ambassador for the Special Olympics.
I have 1 younger sister who is becoming a police officer.
I have 1 crazy cat (Fonzie).
I speak 4 languages (Flemish, French, German and English).
 

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D’hoore

What are your plans and goals for 2019?  And what are you biggest goals for the future?
Goals for 2019:

  • World Track Championships in Poland for the madison
  • The spring classics (especially the classics in Belgium)
  • Belgian national championships (road)

Goals for the future:

  • Olympic medal in the madison in Tokyo 2020

 

Do you have any advice for young riders?
Do what you like and not what you’re being told to do.

BLS interview world tour rider, World champion and Olympic Medalist from Belgium, Jolien D’hoore

Would you mind sharing some stats?
Max power: 1395W
Max HR: 229bpm
Best time 3km IP: 3’30’’202

 

Be sure to follow Jolien’s journey via her social media channels:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jolien_D%27Hoore
http://www.joliendhoore.eu/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jolien.dhoore
Twitter: https://twitter.com/joliendhoore
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joliendhoore

 

Interview by: Matthew de Freitas
(co-founder of BLS)

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros. Photo: Drew Kaplan

Interview: French star, Mathilde GROS

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We interview young French sensation and Junior world champion, Mathilde GROS, about her career, goals for the future, and life outside of cycling.

 

When and how did you start cycling, and especially track sprinting?
I began cycling in September 2014, but I couldn’t really train until March 2015 because I had lots of little crashes when I began, and I was really scared after that to go on the track again.  Before I played basketball and I wanted to become a professional basketball player.  I was in gym for basketball, and the BMX riders of France were at the same time as me at the centre, so for fun my coach of basketball said that I should go on the WattBike, and I did a sprint and I had really good results!

 

What do you enjoy most about cycling?
I love share moments with my family.  In sprinting I really like the speed, but also the duel against someone, and also the duel against oneself!  I like the respect and values of this sport.

 

You were junior World champion last year, how was that experience?
It was an incredible experience, the better experience as a junior in my life.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros. Photo: Drew Kaplan

You are the new sensation of track cycling and already winning medals in the elite ranks, how are you finding the experience?
It was an experience really rich for learning.  I learnt a lot.  I met lots of the best riders in cycling.  It was a really good for me!

 

You and many other young sprinters are a part of the French cycling academy for Tokyo 2020 to take on the British, how do you feel about the French chances?
I don’t know the chance of it.  I just know that I want to be one of the best riders (like a lots of other riders) and I will give the best I can to take medals at the Olympics games.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros. Photo: Drew Kaplan

You come from the birth place of cycling, France, has that inspired you at all?
Yes I was really inspired by this country.  When I started cycling I met lots of famous riders like Florian ROUSSEAU and also Felicia BALLANGER.  They gave me lots of tips on lots of things!

 

You also went to race in the Japanese professional keirin, how was that?
I am so lucky to went to Japan last year.  It was so incredible for me.  I couldn’t believe that the JKA took me for this year, I was young at just 18 years old! It was the best experience of my life!  I met lots of people, and I made lots of friends.  I didn’t know so much the elite riders because I was a junior one year ago, so this experience was really great for me to meet riders like Stephanie MORTON, Natasha HANSEN, Laurine VANRIESSEN, Nicky DEGRENDELE and the boys …. It was so cool!!!!!!  I loved the experience, it was unbelievable!!

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

Tell us something that we wouldn’t know about you?
I love to share moments of happiness with my loved ones, and I am someone who smiles all the time!

 

What are your interests outside of cycling?
I like go out shopping with friends or my sister and my mum.  I like visit monuments and travel the world.  I also continued my school so later I can teach teenagers in high school.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

What is a typical training day for you?
I wake up at 7h50, have breakfast at 8h and after that gym at 9h30 and finish at 11h.  After lunch at 12h, a little nap (really important for me, ha ha, only 25 minutes!).  Training on the track is from 15h00 to 18h30, and after that dinner at 19h.  After that I work my courses of my school because i have big exams twice a year.  And to finish my day, I sleep at 22h30!

 

Are you excited for the Olympics to come to Paris in 2024?
Yes I am very excited for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris!  We are so lucky to have the Olympic in our country!  Already, not many athletes have the chance to go to the Olympics, but even less to do them in their own country!  Just imagine!  In front of your family, your friends…  I hope it will be so cool!

 

What are you goals for the future?
In the future I will give the best I can to become the best rider, and become Olympic champion, it’s my dream and my goal!

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

BLS interview with French track cyclist Mathilde Gros.

What advice do you have for junior riders looking up to you?
Believe in yourself, and work, work, work…  Always remembering why you do this, to stay focused if it’s hard, and to continue.

I want just say thank you to my coach for all, and because he believes in me.
Thank you of my family who support me and come almost everywhere to support me during a big race.
Thank you of the best mechanic also 😉

I want say to Kristina Vogel that she is a beautiful person and really strong girl!  Thanks a lot for your beautiful video for me!

Cycling has allowed me to meet with lots of athletes!  And I can live a life with beautiful moments!

Thank you a lot for your support BLS 😉

 

Interview by: Matthew de Freitas
Co-founder of BLS

BLS luggage tag to personalize your VeloRacing cycling bag

New BLS Luggage Tags now available

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The new rubber BLS Luggage Tags were made to personalize your VeloRacing Bag.

Claim your bag now, whether at a race, amoungst family and friends, or while travelling.

Available in the 3 colour BLS logo, or in grey, to match your bag or personal taste.

Available for US$100 or R100, only with the purchase of any other BLS product

BLS luggage tag to personalize your VeloRacing cycling bag

BLS luggage tag to personalize your VeloRacing cycling bag

Buy now International

Buy now South Africa 

 

BLS luggage tag to personalize your VeloRacing cycling bag

BLS luggage tag to personalize your VeloRacing cycling bag

Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele

Interview: Keirin World Champion – Nicky Degrendele

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We interview young star of the keirin, current World Champion Nicky Degrendele from Belgium.

As Six Days kicks off in Ghent, Belgium this week – it makes perfect sense!

You are so young, yet already so successful; when and how did you start?
I started on track at the end of 2011.  I had done 2 races on the road earlier that year.  In my first race girls crashed in front of me and so I crashed as well, breaking my elbow; resulting in me never doing road racing again!  Track on the other hand, I did like.  In October I started training with some kind of “learning how to ride the track” group and only 3 months later I became u/17 Belgian champion in the sprint -> that was the start of my career.  Then I got invited to train with the national junior team and started doing European sprint and keirin races.  It all went very fast!

 

You broke through straight into the elite ranks, what has been your secret to success?
There’s not really a secret to success, I just did my own thing.  My first year as an elite was really hard and there was a brief moment I thought of stopping because I wasn’t winning.  In December of 2015, the Belgian federation and I made the decision to work towards a bigger and better goal, and they sent me off to the WCC in Switzerland for me to grow as a rider again.

Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele, by Drew Kaplan

How does it feel to be world champion?
I had a very hard time believing that I was actually the world champion.  It is something you work towards but what do you do when you become a world champion?  I took me a while but I do know that I want to be on that top step again and I want to wear the jersey longer!  For now, I’m enjoying it, and not pressuring myself in to anything yet.

 

You come from the mecca of cycling and home to some of the greatest cyclist of all time, Belgium, What is track sprinting like there?
Track sprinting is completely the opposite end to road cycling based on popularity.  We had a few good sprinters a long time ago, and it may have been a bit more popular then, but sadly the attention hasn’t been as big for track as it is for the road.  The current track group, myself included, are doing a great job trying to get more attention to track.  For example: Jolien D’hoore’s Olympic bronze medal, and last year’s world title in Madison with Lotte Kopecky,  Kenny Deketele and Robbe Ghys with their European Madison title, and me with the Keirin world title all have helped.

Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele, by Drew Kaplan

Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele, by Drew Kaplan

Are there any young sprinters coming through the ranks who could join you for the team sprint in 2020?
I think that for the 2020 Olympics it’s best for me to focus just on sprint and Keirin as I am the only woman on track in my country.  If there is a potential rider then there is a possibility we can work towards 2024 Paris Olympics.

 

Your favourite event is the keirin, why do you like it so much?
Keirin requires speed, skill, tactics and guts.  I love everything about it.  There’s not really a specific reason, I just love it!

Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele, by Drew Kaplan

You also spent some time racing the Japanese professional keirin, how was that?
Japan was a great experience.  Looking back I had a fantastic time.  I met a lot of great people, got to know a whole different culture and got to race keirins.  The country was amazing and beautiful, a lot different to Belgium.  It wasn’t only good as an athlete, but also as a person.  Being away from home for that long was a challenge because it’s not just a 10 hour drive with the car to go home if you miss your family, it’s the other side of the planet so you can’t just go back and forth for a little visit. Looking back now I wish I enjoyed it even more with less distraction!  If I’d have the opportunity to go back, I definitely would!

 

Tell us something that we wouldn’t know about you?
I’m very much of a family person, I love to be around people and to get to know new people yet I can also be by myself for a while, and I love to discover new places.  I’m currently in Gstaad, Switzerland having a coffee & answering this email!  You can definitely find me at the ocean, a pool or a lake in summer.  If I could I’d go snowboarding every winter.  I’m an animal lover, that awkward person that will always pet the dogs first before introducing myself to someone.  When I’m struggling with something I prefer to go walking by the ocean with the dogs or I call my mum, my sister or my bestfriends.

 

Where do you get your motivation from:
My motivation comes from what I have achieved in the past few years of racing.  To me it means there is so much more for me to accomplish and that I want to do it.  I love racing, I love the focus of it and the feeling it gives me.  That moment on the start line of “now is the moment to bring what  you have been training for!”

 

What is a typical training day for you?
It may vary to what training is on schedule that day.  I usually have my first alarm at about 7am to eventually get out of bed at 7:30am or 7:45am, I’m a snoozer & I can’t help it!  I have breakfast in my room or at the WCC at 8am.  Gym training starts at 9:30am to 11am or 11:30am, and lunch at 12. Then there’s time for a little sit down after lunch, mainly movie time or catch up with family.  Roller warm up and track session starts from 2pm to 5pm, dinner at 6pm and then I’m off after that.

Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele, by Drew Kaplan

Keirin world champion Nicky Degrendele, by Drew Kaplan

What are your goals for the future?
It’s obvious that I want to be ready by worlds to defend my rainbow stripes “stripey” jersey.  That’s the main goal for this season!  Then it’s to Tokyo 2020.

 

What are your plans leading up to your defence of your title next year, and towards Tokyo 2020?
The next 4 World cups are on my program.  Basically it will be training, training and training!!

 

Do you have any advice for other sprinters out there?
I would say to enjoy it!  If it makes you happy and you enjoy it, keep doing it as long as you’re able to.

 

Interview by Matthew de Freitas
Co-founder and director at BLS

 

 

#BLScompetition

WIN BIG with BLS!!

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This November, we are running 2 competitions that are BIGGER than EVER!

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International competition:

#BLScompetition

#BLScompetition

Win a TIWIA Leather VeloRacing Bag valued at US$750 delivered to your door!  This is a premium leather cycling specific race day bag with individual compartments for all your kit, handcrafted in Cape Town using locally and ethically sourced leather.  This may be the best cycling bag ever made!

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BLS Velo Racing cycling kit bag camo

BLS Velo Racing cycling kit bag camo

Win a BLS VeloRacing Bag – CAMO vfilled with surprise goodies valued at over R1649.  This is a cycling specific race day bag with compartments for all your kit, handmade in Cape Town.

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Enter now, and GOOD LUCK!!

 

 

WIN with BLS and TCA

WIN in November – with BLS and TCA

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We’ve once again joined forces with our friends at the Track Cycling Academy, and this November, you could stand a chance to win a BLS Personalized Velodrome Bag and access to the TCA inner circle program – all valued at over US$500!!

To enter, simply click on the link below to complete a quick survey.

 

Share it on Facebook and Instagram to increase your chances!!

 

The winner will be announced on the 1st of December, and the prize delivered shortly after.

 

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BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

Interview: The “Greatest Showman” of track cycling – Nate Koch

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Known as the “showman” of track cycling, a Six Day legend, social media phenomenon, and all round great guy; we caught up with Nate Koch – TEAM NATER following his retirement from track cycling, and new venture into the media of Six Days.

Six Days is an historic series of track cycling events taking place across Europe which run for 6 nights straight, focusing on the madison and sprint events.  It’s a party atmosphere with insane racing, and a bucket list item for rider and fan alike!

You started cycling relatively late compared to most, how did you get into it?
Yes, I started cycling late compared to most.  I was 24 in 2010 when I started.  After too many injuries in track and field I got a hold of my friend Travis Smith who was on the Canadian national team and asked him if he could get me started.  The rest is history!

 

Your progression to the top was also relatively quick, what made you know you were good and ready to take it on full time?
I had just come off a track and field career as a division 1 decathlete.  I did some knee rehab on the bike and knew that I enjoyed it and decided to give it a go.  Fortunately for me I live 15 minutes from the velodrome (Velo Sports Centre) and the US national team was training there at the time.  It was a pretty seamless transition.

 

You’ve also had some set-backs on your journey, how did you overcome these?
Set backs are just a part of being an athlete, alongside injuries, funding, political opinions and much more.  Being an athlete is a choice, so regardless of the setback you just have to think of how much you want it.

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

What did you do before taking on cycling?
I ran track and field or athletics for 15 years.  I was a division 1 decathlete with a full ride scholarship to Cal State, Long Beach.  I ended up getting my degree in psychology.  Growing up I Played other sports like soccer and baseball, and was always on a bike to get around.

 

How did you get into Six Days?
I got lucky!  To put it simple, I messaged Max Levy on Facebook asking him if there were any spots available.  He actually got back saying that all the positions were full.  A few months later approximately two weeks before the start of Six Day Berlin Max messaged me back saying that Robert (Forstemann) had injured his back and that they were looking for one more rider.  I booked my plane ticket and haven’t looked back since!

 

What do you enjoy most about Six Days?
The crowd and atmosphere are incredible!  I knew from night one at Six Day Berlin 2015 I had found the type of cycling that fits me best.

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

How does it feel to be the “showman” and “entertainer” of track cycling?
I’ll take whatever titles the people would like to give me!  I think it’s great that I am just being myself and enjoying what I am doing, and that the fans are enjoying the show that I get to put on.  And yes, it feels incredible that I would be dubbed The Showman!

 

You’ve really changed the game of Six Days, and become somewhat of a revolutionary on the circuit, what do you think enabled you to do that?
I think the fact that I started so late and didn’t really have any knowledge or understanding of the “correct way” to do things, I did it my own way.  Fortunately for me I came around at a time where lots of changes were starting to be made and my way of doing things fit in to that nicely.

 

How do you keep the energy so high all the time?
I am on when I need to be on, and I turn it off when it is time to be off.  It’s definitely a high-energy week, but the more energy the fans and event put out the more energy I get!

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

You’re not only a Six Day rider, what other success have you had on the bike?
I was man one in the team sprint for team USA.  I currently hold the USA national record with Kevin Mansker and Matt Baronouski in the team Sprint.  I also placed 2nd in the Keirin at the US national championships in 2016.

 

You’ve got some slack from certain groups of cyclists about the credibility of the level of racing at the Six Days, what would your response be to them?
I can’t please everyone and I’m certainly not going to try!   I focus on the people that enjoy the type of person and racer that I am and how I fit into a Six Day event.  Six Day racing is unlike any other.  There are no extra titles or money to be won, but the objective is to put on a great show and entertain the fans.  The racing is full gas and obviously world class, but I rather put on a show and get last place then be boring and win.

 

What do you feel is missing from track cycling, and especially sprinting, in the USA that’s preventing the riders from breaking through at the international competitions?
To put it very simply, I would say athlete support and accountability.  There has been times when athletes have gotten great support, but due to lack of accountability and structure the results never came.  Things are changing in the right direction especially with the 2028 Olympics in LA.  There’s obviously plenty of athletic talent in USA, we just need to find out how to get them on the bike.

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

What do you feel is missing, or needs to be changed in track cycling?
I think the direction that Six Day Cycling is heading in is perfect!  It brings world class high end racing into an exciting event where fun and entertainment is the goal.  There’s definitely a place for serious and focused racing, but sometimes having a good time is most important to grow the sport.

 

You’re one of the most popular track cyclists on social media, how do you do it?
It’s pretty simple I guess, I just have fun and be myself.  Focusing on those who support me and the fans of the sport is always my main objective.

 

Do you feel other cyclists or even sportsman could better market themselves?
Of course, but it is definitely a tough balance.  It doesn’t come natural for many either.  I tried to market myself as best as I could out of necessity.  I couldn’t afford all the nice things and to travel around the world, so if I included others it was not only good for them but lucrative for me as well.

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

Other than cycling, what else are you interested in?
Five years ago I began my bike fit business, Long Beach Bike Fit.  I have about 300 appointments a year now and definitely stay busy with it.  I’ve definitely found a passion in woodworking and building things around my house.  It’s a great way to be in the moment and exercise some creativity.  And most importantly is my family!  My amazing wife Ayla and my beautiful new daughter Lucy are so much fun and bring me huge amounts of joy.  I am excited to see what adventures we get into as a family.

 

What’s next for Nate Koch?  What are your plans and goals for the future?
Six Day London 2018 is my debut as the Six Day Cycling Social Ambassador.  I’m excited to embrace the new role as a retired cyclist, and put 100% of my effort and energy into the fans, sponsors and events to make Six Day Cycling a household name worldwide.

I would also love to entertain the idea of commentating at all sorts of track cycling events.  Commentating at the 2028 Olympics in LA would be a dream!

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

BLS interview six day track cyclist Nate Koch

Conclusion: an inspiration to the young riders getting into the sport, and someone helping to grow track cycling worldwide; love him or hate him – he’s here to stay!

Be sure to tune into Six Day action starting tomorrow in London, and follow TEAM NATER for the latest action and behind the scenes footage!

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Interview by: Matthew de Freitas

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