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Kiwi coaching links a key for UCI BMX Racing World Champion’s success

UCI World Champion, Romain Mahieu, had many reasons to come to New Zealand early to prepare for the first-ever UCI BMX Racing World Cup in Rotorua.

The opening double rounds of the 2024 UCI BMX Racing World Cup will be staged at the new Te Papa o Te Kauri BMX facility at Whakarewarewa on 10 and 11 February.

The 28-year-old has formed a remarkable relationship with New Zealand coach, Kurt Pickard, that saw the Frenchman claim both UCI BMX Racing crowns in 2023 – the UCI World Championship in Glasgow, Scotland and the season-long UCI World Cup.

Mahieu started racing in the UCI BMX Racing World Cup in 2012, reaching his first final five years later, earning his first podium in 2018 and first win in 2022. After a steady decade-long career, Mahieu knew change was needed. He contacted Pickard, a former leading kiwi rider turned coach, after viewing his credentials online.

“At the end of 2022 I decided to change everything in my programme. I got in touch with Kurt – I did not know him – I just texted him on social and we decided let’s do it,” said Mahieu.

The changes to his training and preparation were significant, and the results spectacular. In 2023 Mathieu qualified for every UCI BMX Racing World Cup final with overall wins in Sakarya (Turkey), Papendal (Netherlands) and three victories in the double-double rounds in Santiago del Estero (Argentina). He also scored a brilliant win in the 2023 UCI World Championships in Glasgow, as well as the season-long UCI BMX Racing World Cup overall honours.

“We gave it a shot and my career took another step and I am on another level now. It is what I wanted – something new and I am glad with all the hard work we have been doing,” said Mathieu.

“Last year was very good winning the UCI World Champs and winning the UCI World Cup overall too. It was a perfect year. Having a good year before the Olympics in Paris is great. Now I am excited to start 2024 the same way I finished 2023.

“I’ve come here early because it is a new track. It is good to race a new track on the UCI World Cup circuit. It is always great to go somewhere else. My coach is living here which is also a reason why I am here to spend some time with him and train on the track.”

While Mathieu is not getting too far ahead of himself, the major lure is the Paris Olympics, especially as they are on home territory.

“It is a dream as an athlete to race at the Olympics but racing at the Olympics in your own country does not happen very often, so the goal this year will be to get a medal there.

“I will try to keep the same momentum as last year – we will go with the same routine, the same work, and hopefully we will get a medal this summer. And hopefully start well here in Rotorua which is exciting.”

Entries close next week, with most of the world’s best BMX Racing racers expected, along with significant entries from Australia, who host the third and fourth rounds in Brisbane two weeks after the Rotorua event.

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