Leeds cyclist Tom Pidcock underlines promise with early podium in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
Mads Pedersen, the Danish rider who shocked the sport with his ride to world championship road race glory in Harrogate 18 months ago, was up there, as was Greg Van Avermaet, the reigning Olympic champion and a former Tour de Yorkshire winner.
Matteo Trentin of Italy was in the hunt for more honours, as was Mathieu van der Poel of the Netherlands, one of the rising stars of the peloton.
And then there was the name of Tom Pidcock 21, from Leeds, riding in only his third race in the senior road race ranks.
Pidcock had finished seventh behind van der Poel in the Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Belgium last month as he continued developing his cycling skills in the more challenging format.
But this was a different proposition altogether, up against 173 experienced road cyclists in one of the sport’s storied Classics.
Pidcock, undeterred by the occasion and the strength of the field, finished third in a bunch sprint after staying on the front in the closing stages and hugging the wheel of the Trek-Segafredo train that catapulted Pedersen to victory. To finish on the podium in only his second Classics race just serves to underline the enormous promise of Pidcock, who has been signed on a multi-year deal by Ineos Grenadiers to harness that potential.
Pidcock, who 24 hours earlier impressed on his Classics debut at Omloop Het Niewsblad, said: “Third place in a bunch sprint? Not my specialty but I’ll take that.
“I didn’t feel good all day, I think yesterday was still in my legs a bit so I’m pretty pleased with that.
“I’ve picked up form much quicker than I thought. I had a break after cross, and it bodes well for the next few races I think.
“It was not as difficult as it could have been to transition from cross to road, I kept some form from the cross season.
“My first race for the team at Haut Var was all right, but I was struggling a bit. I wasn’t flying.
“I was decent, but coming into these races I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know where my shape was. And it’s weird to go into it without being able to imagine what you could do, which is how I always like to prepare.
“Now I know, so in that sense there’s lots of positives. I definitely learnt a lot.”
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