Tom Pidcock: ‘One day I can win the Tour de France’

Tom Pidcock - JASPER JACOBS/Belga/AFP via Getty Images
Tom Pidcock – JASPER JACOBS/Belga/AFP via Getty Images

Anyone who watched Tom Pidcock’s stunning singles win at Strade Bianche on Saturday, the second big win of his road racing career, would remember his first.

The way Pidcock broke away from his pursuers in the final kilometers in Tuscany, racing down the famous white gravel roads with no regard for his own personal safety, was strongly reminiscent of his desperate descent from Galibier at last year’s Tour de France, which led to his breakthrough victory at Alpe d’Huez. Another masterclass in his young career.

There is actually a strong argument that 23 year old from Yorkshirealready an Olympic champion in mountain biking And cyclocross world champion is now the most interesting cyclist in the world.

It should come as no surprise, however, that Pidcock is not yet satisfied. He has big ambitions, both in the classics this spring and on the roads of France this summer.

Take, for example, his verdict on winning Alpe d’Huez last summer. “The performance that day was pretty good,” he says now, eight months later. But it wasn’t the best. I know very well that I won that stage from a breakaway. I haven’t beaten the best riders in a one-on-one race. The next step is to win the stages against the best guys. But I believe I can. I believe that one day I can win the Tour.”

This is a statement from a rider who has yet to win a multi-day event. But such is Pidcock’s versatility and his belief in himself, you believe him when he says it.

Geraint Thomas, sitting next to Pidcock at the Ineos Grenadiers winter training base in Mallorca, smiles. The Welshman is at the other end of his career. In fact, this could very well be his last season in the sport. The 36-year-old’s contract expired at the end of the year and he has yet to decide whether to renew it.

However, you can feel that he is enjoying the fall of his career along with young bucks like Pidcock. They tease each other throughout our interview. When I ask Thomas about his contract, if he can sign with another team, he says something like “Ineos or nothing”.

“That doesn’t put you in a very advantageous negotiating position,” Pidcock jokes. “Say there’s a lot of interest!” “There’s always a lot of interest,” Thomas laughs.

But they are also sincere. Thomas says he feeds on the energy of the youth on the team, such as Pidcock, Josh Tarling and Ben Toolett, calling their enthusiasm “infectious”. “If you hang out with the same people year after year, you will eventually become obsolete,” admits the Welshman. “The younger guys are very enthusiastic, even if none of them want to turbo with me in the morning yet! Maybe one of them will crack by the end of the camp.”

Danish Jumbo-Visma rider Jonas Vingegård (center) celebrates his overall win in the yellow jersey, next to Slovenian UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar (left), who finished second overall, and British Ineos Grenadiers rider Geraint Thomas, placed third overall.  on the podium after the 21st and final stage of the 109th Tour de France - Etienne GARNIER/AFP
Danish Jumbo-Visma rider Jonas Vingegård (center) celebrates his overall win in the yellow jersey, next to Slovenian UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar (left), who finished second overall, and British Ineos Grenadiers rider Geraint Thomas, placed third overall. on the podium after the 21st and final stage of the 109th Tour de France – Etienne GARNIER/AFP

“Do you want to run in the morning instead?” asks Pidcock, a 5k runner under 15 minutes.

“I can’t. I don’t have the right shoes,” Thomas retorts.

Pidcock, for his part, says he’s had a lot of fun watching Thomas train and handle the big races.

In particular, at last year’s Tour, where the 2018 champion took a very worthy third place in the overall standings behind Jonas Wingegaard and Tadej Pogacar, thus completing a full set of Tour de France podiums in his career.

“I grew up watching guys like G on TV,” he says. “And last year we rode the Tour together. That was incredible. To see first hand what it takes to be so solid on a big tour. Preparation, consistency, required work, concentration.

“I mean, I’m not the most patient person in the world, even at the best of times. But big tours… on the first day you think: “Good”. Then you get to the second week and you think, “That’s not so bad.” By the third week, I was just completely on my knees. Experience shows. And you can learn faster by watching guys like Gee and Luke. [Rowe]…”

Pidcock says that, in particular, he allowed himself to get too carried away with his epic Alp victory. “After this stage, I slept for about two hours,” he recalls. “Things went downhill from there.”

Pidcock has already shown that he is willing to compromise in order to achieve his goals. He chose not to defend his rainbow jersey at the cyclocross world championships in Hougerheide last month to give himself a “decent shot” in the classics this year. “Last year couldn’t have gone much worse for me in the Classics,” he says. “This year I want to give myself credit.” Judging by his performance over the weekend, this decision paid off. The next few weeks promise more fun.

In the meantime, Thomas is looking to use all of the aforementioned experience at this year’s Giro d’Italia, which is his main goal for the season. It’s a race the Welshman could have won a couple of times in the past if he wasn’t lucky. WITH journey This year, which includes three time trials, the route should suit him. He turns 37 during the race and says he is looking forward to it.

Will this be his last big tour? Will he update? “I don’t know,” he admits. “I thought I would stop at the end of 2023. But maybe I could have another season. It depends.” On what? His form in the first few months of the season? “Not really. It’s a decision I’d like to make pretty soon, to be honest. Because if this is my last year, I want to just, you know, embrace it and get the most out of racing with these guys while I’m still here.” He smiles. “Obviously, Tom is now the main person in the team.”

Pidcock looks like a slightly embarrassed compliment. But this is not a person who lacks self-confidence. After the classic season is over, he will take a break to go mountain biking – he wants to defend his MTB gold in Paris next year – but after that, all systems go to the Tour.

Tom Pidcock with a gold medal - REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Tom Pidcock with a gold medal – REUTERS/Matthew Childs

When asked how quickly he expected to challenge the likes of Pogacar and Wingegaard on the biggest stage of them all – Pidcock lasted two weeks in the top 10 last year before dropping to 16th – he didn’t flinch. “At the moment, I want to win stages right away,” he replies. “Obviously after last year I will have less and less freedom to be able to take breaks and win like I did last year. So yes, the next step in my development is a direct victory in the stages.

And the yellow jersey? “In the future, yes, why not? “I think I know myself well enough. I know what my limits are. Whether it’s mountain biking or the Olympics or cross country or where I can get to the classics… I feel like when I believe it’s possible to win something, I still haven’t been wrong.”


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