Interview with 19 year old Tom Bracegirdle


Racing with the Kuota Spinergy GSG in 2014, 19 year old Tom Bracegirdle is looking to shake out some results and get a ride in a UCI team in the near future

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

This season with the BikeTreks team was his third season racing on the road. Tom started out in the sport doing Time Trials and he really enjoys them; if that’s the right word to use he says. With the road/criterium season being so full on, Tom says he doesn’t get the chance to do as many time trials but explains that he thinks road racing is his favourite form of racing.

Tom Bracegirdle_Crit

Tom lives in Cheshire (Lymm) and gets by in his sport with a couple of part time jobs close to where he lives . “Until recently, I’ve been at a petrol station five days a week and a bar at weekends but I’ve just dropped a few days midweek to give me more time to train” he explains to VeloUK. Here is Tom’s Q & A:

What has been the highlight of the 2013 season for you?
Tom: Probably living and racing in Belgium in August. I was staying in a house with some great lads; three weeks of just racing, eating and relaxing. I loved it.

Which race has been the best one (most fun) to do?
Tom: It would have to be the races in Belgium, in particular the GP Stad Kortrijk. It was an Under 23 kermesse in Kortrijk with a decent field and a quality circuit. There was one dead straight section of road that ran alongside a canal for about 3km and every lap it was lined out at 55+kph. It was awesome.

Would you rate this year as your best.
Tom: For sure. I was disappointed in myself not to get a win on the road but I won a handful of crits and got my 1st category licence so I was fairly pleased.

What would you say is your best asset as a rider – climbing, sprinting, etc?
Tom: I’d say I’m a bit of an all-rounder really. I tend to go well on short, steep climbs but will be putting in a lot of work over winter to improve on the longer ones ready for next season.

How many hours a week would you train on and off the bike out of the season?
Tom: Before Christmas, around 14-18 hours, after Christmas my coach, Jon Taylor, bumps it up a bit to just over 20 hours. Naturally, during the racing season though training hours decrease as racing takes over.

Do you tend to train alone or in a chaingang?
Tom: I like to mix it up sometimes, especially on recovery rides. It’s nice to get out on your own and do your own thing. On my big days though I like to get out in a group as it always make the miles tick by a bit easier.

WBV Kruishoutem 6

What is the best thing about racing bikes?
Tom: For me it’s the history and the culture. I love looking at old footage of the likes of Merckx, Coppi and Ocana, or watching World Champs and Giros from decades ago. I always say racing bikes isn’t a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. It takes over literally everything you do and I like that. It gives you a feeling of purpose and control.

And what is the one thing you enjoy least!
Tom: The stereotyping and the way the media portray cycling, cycling’s fans and professionals do everything they can to make an example of those who choose to cheat and because of it, the sport is victimised. Other sports just blind themselves from doping but because we tackle it head on in an effort to change our sport for the better, we’re seen as the dirty ones, it’s a shame.

If you could change one of your weaknesses into a strength, which one would it be?
Tom: Out and out power on the flat. I struggled a few times this year especially in races like the Circuit of the Fens and Ras Munham where there was a lot of crosswind action.

Are you ‘geeky’ when it comes to the equipment on the bike or you just ride what the mechanic puts in front of you?
Tom: Not overly so to be honest. I tend to keep things simple in truth. Until recently, I wouldn’t have been able to change so much as a brake cable but I’m not that bad now though. I love all the old-school stuff; caps, black shoes, traditional looking frames, I’m not a huge fan of things like aero frames and helmets and skinsuits on the road, it’s a bit too geeky for me.

Do you have a favourite bike?
Tom: Probably my track bike. It’s a Hinde Pista frame and receives constant compliments at the track. I love the simplicity of it (and track bikes in general) most of all.

What will you be doing training wise during the winter? Do you break it up into phases of endurance, intervals etc?
Tom: For now it’s just mostly long steady miles with my mates but as the season gets nearer, I’ll be adding in things like intervals, chaingangs and motor-pacing.

Will you race at all in the winter (cross, track, circuit races?
Tom: I’d love to give ‘cross a go but just couldn’t afford another bike. I ride the track over winter though and really feel that helps keep you sharp, and warm!

Do you have a specific winter training bike?
Tom: Yes, I have a Planet X Ti Pro Road frame with Shimano 105. It’s a little on the heavy side but dead reliable and comfy too.

What do you enjoy doing most when not riding the bike?
Tom: I’m very fortunate that the majority of my family live close by so I get to see them often. I also try to hang out with my mates from back at school when they’re home from uni. It’s good sometimes to get away from cycling and just talk about every day stuff.

Will you try and get away from the weather here and go abroad for a winter training camp
Tom: I’m just in the process of booking one at the moment! I’ll be going over to CHS in Alicante again for a week at the end of January. I went with the team this year and absolutely loved it. The warm weather and climbs are a welcome change from the ice and angry drivers.

What are the races you are looking forward to most in 2014?
Tom: My new team, Kuota-Spinergy-GSG, are planning on going to the Tour ta Malta which looks like a great race. I’m planning on going back to Belgium for a month again too.

What are your long time goals in the sport?
Tom: I’m aiming to get on a UCI continental team in the near future and hopefully just continue to progress from there. I’d love to race across Europe full time.

What inspires you to want to ride professionally – other riders, races, lifestyle …
Tom: The lifestyle is a huge inspiration for me, to be able to race, eat, sleep and travel full time would be a dream come true. I get a massive buzz from watching the pros race too. I went to Limburg for the World Champs last year and the atmosphere was immense, watching Gilbert tear the race to pieces up the Cauberg was something I’ll never forget.

One of my biggest ambitions is to represent GB in races but with so much young talent in this country it certainly won’t be easy.

Is winter a great time to relax or do you miss the racing already and are hungry to get going again …
Tom: This year, my season ended a month earlier than intended after a crash that put me (and my bike) out of action for a bit and by the time I was fit again, the season here was all but over. Because of that it feels like an eternity since I last raced and I think I’m probably more eager to get racing than anyone right now! I’m super motivated for 2014 and can’t wait to get going.


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