Interview: Tom Pidcock has set wheels in motion on road to glory

Leeds teenager Tom Pidcock won the triple crown of British, European and World titles in junior cyclo-cross this past season. He spoke to Lee Sobot about his ambitions for similar success in the senior ranks.

Friday, 10th February 2017, 2:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th February 2017, 12:39 pm
Junior World and European cyclo-cross champion 17-year-old Tom Pidcock at his home in Roundhay. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

AT JUST 17 years of age, Leeds cycling star Tom Pidcock admits the enormity of being a world, junior and national champion takes some getting used to.

His feat at becoming world junior cyclo-cross champion will really hit home when donning the rainbow jersey in tomorrow’s season finale in Hulst, Holland.

If Pidcock has his way, this last 12 months will be a sign of bigger and better things to come for a teenager who is now out to conquer the road race scene en route to his dream of becoming a World Tour road rider and a senior world champion.

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Tom Pidcock at his home in Roundhay. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Roundhay-based Pidcock has enjoyed a dream year on the junior cyclo-cross circuit with the teenager winning the Junior European Championships at Pontchateau in October.

After taking the British National Junior Cyclo-cross Championships title in Bradford, the Roundhay School pupil then completed a brilliant treble when scooping the junior world title in Bieles, Luxembourg in January.

Not bad for a ‘secondary’ discipline with Pidcock initially only taking up cyclo-cross engagements to keep him busy over the winter.

The teenager hopes to successfully defend his cyclo-cross titles over the next 12 months but the speedster’s focus is on excelling on the road.

Tom Pidcock at his home in Roundhay. (Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

Even in these last 12 months, the Leeds star has already signalled note of his road potential, notably when landing the La Philippe Gilbert Juniors race in September. And now the teenager is aiming to replicate his cyclo-cross achievements on the road in 2017 with the youngster specifically targeting success in the Paris–Roubaix Juniors plus the European and World Junior Track Championships later this year.

“Originally I just got into cyclo-cross to break up the winter because I do the road in the summer,” said Pidcock.

“I did a few races and got on the podium in national champs and stuff on my winter road bike, and then Seth Smith took me into his team and it went from there really.

“This year I am going to focus on the road and for the next few years I will do both cross and road. The Paris-Roubaix is a big goal for me because it’s such a special race on the cobbles.

“Then there’s the European track championships in the middle of the season. I hope to go to those and there’s obviously the worlds in September in Norway.”

Reflecting on his amazing year in cyclo-cross, Pidcock admitted: “I guess sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming.

“At 17, as a career in cycling you have still got a long way to go and to be world champion already – it’s a bit overwhelming.

“I have only lost one race this year so I guess I was the favourite. I certainly was in my eyes and it would be have been hard not to be having won almost every race I have ridden.

“I think there’s only ever been one junior who hasn’t lost a race and I was hoping to do that.

“But I’m just doing one more race now so I can go and show off my rainbow stripes. It will be pretty special and it will help me come to terms with the fact that I’m world champion.”

While not necessarily destined to reach the pinnacle for his age group, there is no doubt that Pidcock’s success as a cyclist was always on the cards. Dad Giles formerly competed for Great Britain and took part in the World Student Games in Moscow.

“It was inevitable me getting into it,” admits Pidcock.

“He didn’t make it to the finish in Moscow but only about ten people finished. At the end of the day he rode for GB – but I think I have already done better!”

It might be, however, that younger brother Joe does even better still.

The elder Pidcock sibling revealed: “He’s keen on cycling and he won the national series for his age group this year – under-14s – on the road.

“I don’t like to admit it but I think he’s actually doing better than I was then.”

Assessing his own long-term plans, the cyclist pondered: “I want to be, ultimately, elite world champion on the road and at cyclo-cross.

“And obviously I want to be a world tour road rider – riding the Tour de France and the Classics like Paris-Roubaix, and races like that. I do think cyclo-cross and road racing are quite similar.

“With cross-riding, in the past, cross-riders have gone on to the road and they have gone on to be some of the best riders in the world, so I think they do overlap quite a bit and I did all right last year.

“Hopefully this year I can do even better.”