Tom Pidcock thinks that he can build on a breakout year by rivalling Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert among cycling’s elite.
Pidcock had a season to remember as he competed for Ineos Grenadiers at WorldTour level for the first time, made his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a Espana, and won gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It was topped off with an MBE after being named on the Queen's New Year Honours list.
The next goal for Pidcock, after a winter spent battling Van der Poel and Van Aert on the cyclo-cross stage, is more success against his rivals on the road.
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“I believe that I am as good as them, or will be as good as them,” Pidcock told VeloNews.
“I think they’re the top echelon of the sport, so it’s great to be placed next to them. Some people seem to think I’m there now, but I need more results to really be next to them, let’s be honest. And so that’s what I’m going to work to achieve.”
Pidcock recently finished second behind Van Aert at the GP Sven Nys before securing his second cyclo-cross World Cup victory of the season in Hulst.
Multi-sport rivals Pidcock, Van Aert, and Van der Poel look set for plenty more battles in the years ahead.
“I think I’ll be another step up next year,” reflected Pidcock.
“Doing a Grand Tour, even if I was not there firing on all cylinders, I was still there every day, pushing. Coming out the back of that the fitness I had was actually kind of insane once I recovered from it. It was like nothing I’ve had before, my resting heart rate was like six beats a minute less than normal.
“The big thing going into the road season in 2021 was the endurance and being able to race the distance of pro races.
“The intensity wasn’t so much an issue – it doesn’t get more intense than ‘cross. Not to say I would be the best but I knew, intensity-wise, I could be up there.”
Pidcock’s 2021 season included top-six finishes at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Strade Bianche, Amstel Gold, Fleche Wallonne, and victory over Van Aert at Brabantse Pijl.
“I was the least experienced person in the team this year,” he said. “When you’re racing with these guys that are so experienced you’re just always constantly picking up little things and you adjust to how the more experienced guys operate.
“I think with a bit more experience I could have done more with the shape I had this year, but it went pretty well anyway. I learned a lot, and I showed I can be at the front of races.
“Next year with more experience I can go into all the races a bit differently. I want to win some more.”
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