Tom Pidcock determined to ensure variety of disciplines continues to bring him golden success
As the Olympic mountain bike gold medalist, world cyclo-cross champion and an emerging star on the road, Pidcock’s versatility makes him the nation’s most exciting young talent.
In a world where cycling had become increasingly specialised, Pidcock belongs to a generation breaking those rules. For the Yorkshireman, variety is the key to success.
It had been thought Pidcock, from Leeds, was going to spend May at the Giro d’Italia, challenging four-time cyclo-cross world champion and former European mountain bike champion Mathieu Van Der Poel for stage victories.
Instead, after a difficult road Classics season followed his cyclo-cross world title in January, Pidcock got back on his mountain bike for the first time since winning gold in Tokyo.
The 22-year-old, enjoying the new-found respect that comes with his Olympic crown, delivered World Cup victories in Albstadt and Nove Mesto. This is how he resets.
“It’s been a nice couple of weeks’ racing,” said Pidcock. “The mountain bike world is a pleasant place to be. Everyone is chilled out, friendly. It’s nice to be back and also to be winning.
“The Classics season is quite full on. It’s nice to get away into my own little world and do my own thing. I enjoy it, and I’m pretty good at it.”
A change, they say, is as good as a rest. Given Pidcock barely allows himself an off-season between the three disciplines, he thrives on variety.
“Mentally it’s nice and refreshing,” he added. “It stops the monotony of just road riding, it changes things up. I’m not saying road riding is boring but when I get to change, it keeps me on my toes.
“When I’m on my toes I respond the best. For example before the Olympics, when I broke my collarbone I was not in a good place to try to win, but I was so switched on because I knew I had limited time. Everything was 100 per cent.”
Pidcock signed a five-year contract with the Ineos Grenadiers in March. There may come a time when the team wants him to deliver the returns primarily on the road but, having set up mountain biking and cyclo-cross arms to support his ambitions, bringing in many of his crew from his own Trinity Racing operation, there is no rush.
“At the moment they follow my lead,” Pidcock said of Ineos. “It’s kind of my little project and my team within the team.”
The road now beckons – Pidcock is due to start the Tour de Suisse on June 12 and the Tour de France could follow in July.
Many believe he is a future Grand Tour winner. Pidcock is constantly asked when he might target the Tour, but it is not a conversation which interests him at present.
“Grand Tours, I’d say they’re the pinnacle of the sport,” said Pidcock, who made his three-week debut at last year’s Vuelta a Espana.
“Once you start focusing on them, that’s quite a one-way road. I’m not in a rush to do that.”
There will come a time when competing in three disciplines no longer works. Pidcock envies the time off his road team-mates enjoy in the winter, and said he will one day need to find ways of cutting back.
But he retains an ambitious goal – emulating Frenchwoman Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and becoming the first man to be the road, cyclo-cross and mountain bike world champion at the same time.
The cyclo-cross rainbow jersey is already his, the mountain bike world championships in August are a major target and he could ride the road worlds the following month.
“Of course it’s possible,” Pidcock said of the treble.
“Pauline has done it in the women’s. It’s only a matter of time before someone does it in the men’s.”
Tom Pidcock is a Red Bull athlete. Watch the replay of the Men’s XCO final in Nove Mesto on Red Bull TV.