The backdrop is a glimmering Catalan lake, the sun’s rays bouncing off its waters with as much energy as Pidcock does with his mountain bike off the surrounding rocky trails. When he arrives back after another test loop, his coach Kurt Bogaerts, is always the first to his side, asking him how the bike is feeling. Discussing in great depth the functionality of the suspension, how rigid the wheels feel, how grippy the tyres are.
The next few days this cycle of discussion, ride, return, discussion runs continuously on a loop. With every bit of new information that Pidcock relays to Bogaerts you watch him ponder, have further discussions with the mechanics, get on the phone to the bike parts manufacturers and have further discussions with them. It’s intense work, Bogaerts’ brain slowly becoming fatigued in unison with Pidcock’s legs; the two have proven over the last few years to be a winning combination.
Success with young riders is Bogaerts forte, he has a knack for seeking out talent and helping it flourish and reach its potential, and has worked alongside one of the most successful cyclists of all time, Sean Kelly. “I was a cyclist myself, and then I stopped because of an injury in my back, after that I started the academy, together with Sean Kelly, and we built it up into a continental team, An Post-Chain Reaction; I spent 12 years there.”
Since joining forces with Pidcock back in 2018, the two have worked together closely, seeing Pidcock take wins at high profile road races such as the junior Paris-Roubaix and Tour d’Alsace, as well as podiuming at the junior World Championships in his home area of Yorkshire. Bogaerts has been instrumental in helping Pidcock arrive at those start lines in top form, both physically and mentally. The latter being something that Bogaerts spends time on, adamant that this part of the process needs just as much attention as the physical; he’s seen the pressure on young athletes and the effect it has. “For example, in cyclocross in the pits there would be five mechanics, and when Tom was back in the camper post race he’d look out the window and say, ‘All these people are here for me and I didn’t perform,’” Bogaerts explains. “So I would say to him: “As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and say that you did the maximum you could, you don’t need to feel guilty, these people are out there because they want to be here”.
Bogaerts talks about the athletes he’s worked with, with such sincerity and genuine concern for their wellbeing and in return Pidcock displays nothing but respect for his trainer.