More Belgian track cyclists at the Games. I also hope for more medals. And to prevent young talents from leaving the track too quickly and putting everything on the road. These will be the big challenges for New Zealander Tim Carswell. On the sidelines of the Belgian International Track Meeting at the Flemish Cycling Centre, the brand new national track coach, accompanied by his right arm Kenny De Ketele, presented himself on Saturday. “Why did I choose Belgium? The full potential is not exploited here.
The name is not new. At the end of last year it became clear that the Belgian cycling federation had said goodbye to Peter Pieters. He would be replaced by a duo: the young retiree Kenny De Ketele and, just a little higher in the hierarchy, Tim Carswell. Carswell comes from New Zealand, is fifty years old, was once an Olympic level track himself, has been active as a trainer on the track for more than twenty years and landed in Belgium three weeks ago. With letters of nobility. He led New Zealand to the Olympics in Beijing, London and Rio. “A country with only five million inhabitants”, it sounded. “But we won Olympic medals in the team sprint and team pursuit. It shows that a lot is possible with good organization, planning and structure.
New Zealand as an example for Belgium. Not a bad idea for Carswell. After the Olympics last year – “it’s always time to push the coaches” – he had several options. If he chooses Belgium, it is because he sees opportunities there. “You are a huge cycling country”, it sounds. “There is no shortage of influx. I only have to look at the juniors to determine what talent there is. However, they often decisively choose the route very quickly. I want to help reverse this trend. Look abroad: how many good pros don’t combine a successful career on the road with the track? Someone like Ganna is the best example. Or in your own country: Lotte Kopecky. Track and road can be strengthen each other. That’s what I want to teach these young people. You can’t offer them the big bucks on the slopes. But a chance at a rainbow jersey or an Olympic medal is. That should also be a incentive.
Play in Paris
Carswell has a contract until the Paris Olympics in 2024 inclusive. Even if it must be very disappointing if it is not to be extended almost automatically until the Games in Los Angeles in 2028. “I was looking for something in the long term. But the Paris Games will be the first reference. In Tokyo, Belgium was represented in numbers with only four riders in total: team race and omnium, for men and women. This figure should already be higher in Paris. “The team race and the omnium remain the priority,” said Carswell. “Belgium have been strong in this area for many years. But we also want to work on the team pursuit. Also to have a broader base and to be able to attract more runners.
The spearhead of this new Belgian dynamic will undoubtedly be Lotte Kopecky. Carswell has already had the first conversations with her. The new national coach does not fear that the world champion in the points race will focus less on the track and even more on the road after her recent successes. “Not at all. Lotte will be there next week at the Nations Cup in Glasgow. Lotte is already working on the Games in Paris. Other key players will be Shari Bossuyt, following the departure of D’Hoore Kopecky’s new partner in the team race, sprinter Nicky De Locke and among the male riders Robby Ghys, Lindsay De Vylder and Fabio Van Den Bossche.The first major meeting of the new De Ketele-Carswell duo will be the European Track Cycling Championship in August in Munich.