It’s safe to say that many insiders thought British cyclocross phenom Thomas Pidcock would eventually transition to stardom in road racing. But it’s also safe to say that many of these same experts were surprised by the immediate success the 21 year old from Leeds had in his debut campaign on the UCI WorldTour.
Over the course of two months, Pidcock raced ten times in the fabled spring classics in Italy, Holland and Belgium. During that span he had three podium places—third in a field sprint at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, a photo-finish second in the Amstel Gold Race and a triumphal win at De Brabantse Pijl.
Those races provided a confirmation of his talent and a rugged learning experience. Here, during a conversation that took place a few days after the Tour of Flanders in early April, Pidcock offers color commentary on six big races in his own words.
February 28; 197 km
In just his second classic, Pidcock surprised observers by sprinting to a third-place finish from a large pack.
Tom’s take: “That day I was not going really good; my legs felt sluggish. But I had a teammate up the road and I was able to duck and dive, and found myself in a good position with 1 kilometer to go. Even though I’m not a sprinter, I think a sprint on a long, hard day where no one gets a chance to ease up suits me pretty well.”
March 6; 184 km
On a thrilling day in Tuscany, Pidcock hung with an all-star crew that exploded the race, ultimately finishing fifth.
Tom’s take: “Honestly, it was surreal. It was two of the top one-day riders, two guys who won the Tour de France, the world champion and me. Being able to race with them to the finish gives me confidence.”
You only learn by doing it.
MILAN SAN REMO
March 20; 299 km
After a long day, he finished with the lead pack in 15th, taking the front on the descent of the iconic Poggio in the finale.
Tom’s take: “I attacked on that descent, partly because I really didn’t know where I was going. The finish in San Remo comes up really fast; you only learn by doing it.”
E3 SAXO BANK CLASSIC
March 26; 204 km
Pidcock had an off day on a tough Flanders course. But after sitting at the back for a long stretch, he finished 25th.
Tom’s take: “I was ill—I had a cold and felt quite weak. These races are hard and take a toll. Dealing with bad days is part of it.”
DWARS DOOR VLAANDEREN
March 31; 184 km
All chances for a top finish fizzled after Pidcock got caught behind a big crash. After a long chase, he finished with the lead pack in 43rd.
Tom’s take: “I crashed at the worst possible time; the real racing had just begun. But I have to accept I’m not always in control. In Belgium you sometimes need to forget you have brakes.”
TOUR OF FLANDERS
April 4; 254 km
At arguably the hardest race of the spring, Pidcock briefly led the field in a move that didn’t stick. He finished 41st.
Tom’s take: “I kind of raced like I want to race. I mean it wasn’t the best tactic if I wanted to get results. And I ended up forgetting the basics—I didn’t eat enough and I blew up. The last hour, when things are coming at you so fast, it’s easy to screw up your nutrition. All these things are learning experiences.”