Tom Pidcock targeting success on all fronts

Tom Pidcock has his sights set on the biggest prizes in cycling after a rapid start to his professional career on the road.

Monday, 10th May 2021, 10:52 pm
Rising star: Leeds rider Tom Pidcock, left, wins in Belgium earlier this year. Photo VK/PN/Cor Vos/SWpix.com © 2021

The 21-year-old quickly looked at home since joining the Ineos Grenadiers this season, taking a breakthrough victory at Brabantse Pijl last month before second place in a controversial photo finish at the Amstel Gold Race.

A rider who has collected junior and under-23 titles in cyclo-cross, mountain biking and on the road looks to have the world at his feet, and a bucket list on his phone that includes the Tour de France.

“If someone mentions cycling in the UK, you think of someone like Mark Cavendish - that’s kind of what I want to be, I want to be a name you associate with it,” Pidcock told the PA news agency.

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All-rounder: Tom Pidcock has enjoyed success in various different races. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

“In Formula One it’s Lewis Hamilton, in tennis it’s Roger Federer or maybe Andy Murray if you’re British. That’s where I want to get to in the sport.”

By any measure Pidcock’s start to life at WorldTour level has been outstanding.

After taking third at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, he came into the finale of Strade Bianche in March challenging an elite group that included reigning world champion Julian Alaphilippe and Tour de France winners Egan Bernal and Tadej Pogacar, ultimately finishing fifth.

“There was a point in that race where I was just rotating through and you look, there’s two Tour winners, the world champion, and a four-time cyclocross world champion (eventual race winner Mathieu van der Poel),” Pidcock said.

“You think, ‘wow, I’m in the mix here, I’m at the front with the biggest riders in the world.”

Pidcock said it had felt an “easy transition” to move up to the WorldTour, but then he is used to changing gears. This month he has swapped his road bike for a mountain bike but not slowed down.

He won his season opener in Leukerbad, Switzerland at the start of the month before defying a puncture to turn 100th place into fifth in the opening UCI World Cup race in Albstadt, Germany on Sunday.

The results underlined Pidcock’s obvious medal potential for the Olympics this summer but there is one major problem - qualification for Tokyo is out of his hands.

Great Britain do not have enough points to qualify a place themselves, but Pidcock could still sneak in. The first two non-qualifying nations from the previous under-23 world championships also get a ticket - Britain came third so if Romania or Chile qualify directly, Britain is next in line.

The final tickets for Tokyo will be punched in Nove Mesto, Czech Republic this weekend, but with his fate to be determined by others, Pidcock will race it like any other race.

“I think I’ve got a really good chance of a medal (in Tokyo) and I think the biggest chance is in the mountain bikes over the road, so for sure it’s one of my goals for the season,” Pidcock said.

“I’d still be doing what I’m doing, I’d be doing these races (regardless of qualification) so it doesn’t change anything in terms of how I approach it.”

After this World Cup, Pidcock’s next race will be back on the road at the Tour de Suisse early next month. After that, he hopes, come the Olympics, while the back end of the season will be built around a Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana, which starts on August 14.

It is a hectic schedule for a rider who never enjoys a true off-season as he flips between disciplines, taking shorter breaks whenever he can find them.

“I want to win the Tour de France, so at some point in my career I’m going to have to stop the other things and focus on the road,” he said.

“I’d need to leave the other things, maybe not all together, but it would need to take a step back.”

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