Tom Pid­cock

As Ju­nior Na­tional, Euro­pean and World Cy­clocross Cham­pion, win­ner of Ju­nior Paris-roubaix and now Elite Cir­cuit Race Cham­pion, 18-year-old Tom Pid­cock is the fu­ture of Bri­tish bike rac­ing. Cy­clist catches him skiv­ing off school…

Cyclist - - Interview - Words JACK ELTON WAL­TERS Pho­tog­ra­phy ALEX WRIGHT

Cy­clist: It’s Mon­day, Tom. Why aren’t you at school?

Tom Pid­cock: Be­cause I’m do­ing this. I’ve only got one les­son to­day, any­way. On some days I don’t have school un­til 11 so I go out train­ing in the morn­ing. Then I go to school, come home, eat, watch the telly and do the chain­gang in the evening. Or in the morn­ing I’ll just sleep in, then clean my bike, then do the chain­gang. Cy­cling’s the pri­or­ity now.

Cyc: Do you feel you miss out on other things that peo­ple your age get up to be­cause you’re out on your bike?

TP: Yeah, prob­a­bly. But I’m not the sort of per­son who likes go­ing out drink­ing and stuff like that. I just do what I want to do – and I want to ride my bike.

Cyc: Which are you most pas­sion­ate about, road or cy­clocross?

TP: I think cy­clocross. As a ju­nior there’s more at­ten­tion there: you go round a course and there are crowds all the way round, but in a road race you might be rid­ing for two hours and only see 10 peo­ple. Cross feels a bit big­ger at the mo­ment. Ob­vi­ously rid­ing at the Tour de France would be dif­fer­ent, but at my level…

Cyc: Do you think choos­ing cy­clocross is in­flu­enced by the fact that you’ve had the most suc­cess in cross?

TP: Yes, be­cause I never train on my cross bike. I think I’m just more tal­ented at cross. Last year I was do­ing road and track, and then I’d just go to a cross race, jump on my bike and win. It prob­a­bly ex­plains my suc­cess at Ju­nior ParisRoubaix. Cy­clocross and Paris-roubaix are both about be­ing able to get the power out while on dif­fi­cult sur­faces, and that’s what I’m good at. Also, since the Worlds it’s been a lot easier to think about tac­tics in races. I’m not ner­vous of any­thing any more. Cyc: You’ve won Ju­nior Paris-roubaix, so can you win the se­nior race within the next 10 years?

TP: Ten years? Yeah, prob­a­bly. That’s prob­a­bly when you peak isn’t it?

Cyc: Who were your cy­cling he­roes when you were grow­ing up?

TP: Mark Cavendish. I looked up to him. My dad was a sprinter too, and I thought I was go­ing to be a sprinter, but I’m prob­a­bly worse at sprint­ing than any­thing else. When I was younger I didn’t like Peter Sa­gan be­cause he just won ev­ery­thing. I thought he was amaz­ing, but at the same time I didn’t like him. But now, well, he’s just pretty cool, isn’t he?

Cyc: Which rider in the cur­rent World­tour pelo­ton do you think you’re most sim­i­lar to?

TP: Michal Kwiatkowski or some­one like that. Maybe Greg Van Aver­maet. P

Or per­haps Zdenek Sty­bar. Yeah Sty­bar – that makes sense.

Cyc: Have you had any good ad­vice from older rid­ers for rac­ing or train­ing?

TP: I re­mem­ber at a crit race there were loads of cor­ners, re­ally tight, and me and my dad were both rid­ing the sup­port race. One of the Down­ing brothers came over and said, ‘Ride low pres­sures, ride 60psi, it’s not about straight lines, it’s all about the cor­ners.’ It made a mas­sive dif­fer­ence. Ever since I was lit­tle I’d ride with a lot of pres­sure in my tyres, be­cause I just thought more pres­sure meant less rolling re­sis­tance. Now I ride less pres­sure be­cause there’s more grip and it’s com­fier.

Cyc: You’re at the start of your cy­cling ca­reer. If you could write your own story be­tween the ages of 18 and 36, how would you want it to go?

TP: Elite Cy­clocross World Cham­pion, Paris-roubaix, ride the Tour de France and win a stage, wear the yel­low jersey, Elite Road World Cham­pion.

‘I don’t know whether I’ll be a climber or not. Right now I’d say I’m prob­a­bly more of a one­day rider. Three weeks is a long time to keep your head switched on. Bit stress­ful, that’

Cyc: Is the Tour de France a goal for you in terms of win­ning it, or do you think it will be more about stages and a team role?

TP: I reckon I’ve still got to de­velop, but I don’t know whether I’ll be a climber or not. Right now I’d say I’m prob­a­bly more of a one-day rider. Three weeks is a long time to keep your head switched on. Bit stress­ful, that.

Cyc: How are you cop­ing with hav­ing more and more ex­pec­ta­tion placed on you?

TP: I just don’t re­ally feel pres­sure any more. By the time I got to the Worlds it was all pretty nor­mal. You just get used to it. You have to. Cyc: There was the mo­ment in the Worlds where you slid out and stopped. Did you think you’d lost it in that in­stant?

TP: My wheel slid out, but I was push­ing down on my hood to keep my­self up­right, so my hood slid down and it tight­ened my brake up. I tried to undo it but wasn’t able to. Ac­tu­ally I was pretty calm then – I wasn’t un­der any pres­sure there – but it’s not al­ways like that. This week­end I punc­tured while I was in the win­ning break. I pan­icked, stopped, didn’t even put it in the big­gest gear and took my wheel out. The neu­tral ser­vice guy was rub­bish – the pelo­ton was 50 sec­onds be­hind us and when I got back on my bike I was off the back and had to chase back on.

Cyc: You’re cur­rently in the BC Acad­emy, and Bri­tish Cy­cling has had some­thing of a trou­bled year. Has any of that trick­led down to you?

TP: No, not re­ally. We some­times talk about how badly it ap­pears to have been han­dled, with the sto­ries of what they did or didn’t do. I don’t even re­ally know about it. As far as I’m con­cerned, Wig­gins hasn’t taken any­thing that wasn’t within the rules, but the whole thing has re­flected pretty badly on Bri­tish Cy­cling. It doesn’t re­ally af­fect us, though.

Cyc: Have you no­ticed any changes to BC rules or prac­tices since they came un­der fire for sex­ism and bul­ly­ing?

TP: No, noth­ing like that. Cyc: You’ve signed for Bel­gian squad Te­lenet Fidea Li­ons. Do you think you’ll move out of York­shire and go and base your­self in Bel­gium?

TP: I’ve got my first races with them this Oc­to­ber, at ei­ther Zon­hoven or Pold­ers Cross in the Un­der-23s. But I don’t think I’ll move out there in the first year. Def­i­nitely not to Bel­gium – it’s a pretty hard place to live when it’s grey! I might ac­tu­ally go to Girona with Rob Scott who rides for Wig­gins. A lot of cy­clists are in Girona.

Cyc: Have you rid­den there be­fore? TP: No! ]

Tom Pid­cock doesn’t lack con­fi­dence, and he’s very clear on his hopes for the fu­ture: ‘Elite Cy­clocross World Cham­pion, ParisRoubaix, ride the Tour de France and win a stage, wear the yel­low jersey, Elite Road World Cham­pion’

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