Since Tao Geoghegan Hart's amazing Giro d'Italia win in Milan, media heads have been asking for quotes about my time as his early years cycle sport coach. For now and for another time (without the disruptions pls) I've made a compilation, some of it based on the headings sent to me as a request by a reporter from The Sunday Times newspaper.
The Sunday Times 1st November
A good news story in troubled times
"Just after detonating the 2020 Giro d'Italia, I see one of Hackney's best ever racing cyclists interviewed on TV to a world wide audience. He is looking calm and reflective again. Please tell me how this is possible, I'd love to know. For an analogy, think Beyonce on stage giving it the max and she’s out there, a glorious, dazzling goddess entertaining the universe. A short while later, backstage doing an interview and she’s like the woman next door."
A global sport for all
"Having been active and pursuing fair representation at entry and every level since beginning cycle coaching in 2007, sometimes I look at UCI World Tour events, cycling world cups and championships in wonder. And then I'm going; aren't these riders supposed to be competing against the whole world. I mean like, where's the rest of 'em?!"
"Coming from multi cultural Hackney, recently Tao has been open in media interviews about cycle racing and its diversity problem. Another driver for actual change, we hope so and we keep believing"
Diversity & racism
"It was good to hear Tao remembering his Hackney roots as winner after the Giro had finished.; Geoghegan Hart said 'I would love to see more cycling as a sport in London and more diversity in cycling, I hope I can inspire a few kids in Hackney to dream big.'
"Asking for improved access to quality cycling for all and to make the sport fully inclusive and welcoming; these are core sentiments at CC Hackney. It was great that he’d like his victory to inspire young people to do well in general and enjoy any sport."
"Yes, it's needed.”
Once a goalkeeper always a Gooner
"Tao the goalkeeper. I never saw him playing football but they say you need to be a bit nuts to be a goalie; putting your body on the line and at risk for the team. In the end he said he got hacked off playing for the Borough because people kept letting him down. With CC Hackney and cycle sport I believed he realised his destiny was in his own hands and greater than with his local club."
“Tao is a Gooner - Arsenal FC."
Tao Geoghegan Hart & Alex Peters
"In youth racing with CC Hackney, there was a period when it was almost guaranteed that if Tao’s peer (school and club mate) Alex Peters would win a race one week, the following week comes around and Tao does the same. They had an incredible energy between them, they pushed each other on so much."
Write it down
"On our funded trips away, it was a part of the deal that those travelling should take note and provide a write up for our sponsors and a personal record for history sake. Tao understood the reasoning and wrote it down."
The road to Essex
"After one training ride I remember saying to Tao that he had lost pace for a moment on the final Epping Road stretch up to Woodford. This 20-minute 'final' needs to be drilled, finishing strong and near the limits. Maybe then, preparation for what was to come for this lad had already begun; as I gather that what goes on in the final hour of World Tour races these days really is an extreme effort."
Pas de Calais France
"A youth team rider for Hackney’s London Youth Games cycling squad, Tao travelled with us (bike train bike ferry) for a block of spring training on safe French roads. This was a new experience for our group and I think the first time Tao had ridden a racing bike in Tour de France country.”
Italian Youth Trip the road to Liguria
"My brief was to develop cycle sport in Hackney for the boroughs education authority *The Learning Trust. I organised and fundraised for a youth development trip to Osiglia, Liguria in Italy for 4th-7th September 2009. Liguria is the home area of Joseph Alberti, our assistant coach at the time. The group learned so much during this coiled spring of a visit, not least the enthusiasm and joy of cycling and racing in Italy.
On the trip were; CC Hackney members; Clem Berrill, Kyroah Pang, Alex Peters and Tao Geoghegan Hart, along with staff Joseph Alberti and lead Keir Apperley
“The idea was to introduce our talented young riders to the passion of continental Italian cycling and increase their interest in cycle sport for the future.” K.A.
Since then Alex and Tao went on via different routes to join Team Sky as young professional cyclists, scoring significant results domestically and internationally."
Link to a short film about this trip: Delbono Memorial Race 2009
A special thanks must go to The Learning Trust's chief Sir Alan Wood for putting trust in me. And to Nicola Baboneau (my line manager at the time) who backed my work and together we ensured our sponsored, educational trips went ahead in the correct way; fully compliant and sorted regarding safeguarding, child welfare and outcomes.
Any more Tao's?
Please and thank you
“Tao has always been openly thankful and appreciative of any help that comes his way. He’s a polite and decent fella. Young sports people please take note, I’m sure you will; keep it coming!”
Keir Apperley – founding member of Cycling Club Hackney, Manager and lead Coach.
"Everybody's time comes and when you get your chance, take it!"
"How can you help other people if you don't look after yourself. Rule number one - look after number one"
"We're all people on the same planet. The borders we put between us are just a construct"
Cycling Club Hackney - Founded November 2007