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Pidcock: ‘At low points I feel that people put too much pressure on me to win’

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17 Apr 2019
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Words and photography: Peter Stuart

Cyclist sits down in Mallorca with Tom Pidcock, current UCI Cyclocross Under-23 World Champion, to speak about crashing at the Classics, mixing cross and road, and winter training in Yorkshire.

Cyclist: Sorry to hear you crashed at the Under-23 Tour of Flanders at the weekend, how did the race go for you otherwise?

Tom Pidcock: The race was really good for me. The form is there and I felt I was the strongest in the race – I just didn’t play my cards right to get away. 

I crashed 600m from the line, I was a bit far back and so I was moving up. I moved into a gap and another rider tried to close the gap. He wrapped handlebars with me and we both came off. 

It’s easy to say now but, I truly believe I would have won. I’m sprinting really well at the moment and having started contesting bunch sprints again after two years of keeping out of them, my confidence was pretty high. 

Cyc: What do you think your major goals will be for the rest of the reason?

TP: Well Tour of Flanders was a big one, but all the remaining Classics. We’ve got the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour of Britain, so those will be my major targets.

Cyc: Will you continue to mix cyclocross and road for the foreseeable future?

TP: Yeah for the next three years at least I’m still doing 'cross. I see that as a two dimensional option, versus the more one-dimensional side road riding. 

With recent riders from cyclocross, I think they’ve been afraid to mix the two at once. I mean Stybar had a good year this year, and he had a good year in the first when came from cyclocross, but in between he didn’t because of the intensity in the winter.

Cyc: Do you see the cyclocross scene growing in the UK?

TP: Definitely. In Britain it’s not a huge sport by any means, but you can really see the growth. It’s a really good family atmosphere, everyone knows each other. It’s a community sort of thing.

Cyc: Where is your favourite place to train?

TP: Yorkshire is definitely the best place to train – it’s the hardest place to train. Like here [Mallorca] 100 miles is easy. It’s fast, but in Yorkshire the roads are heavy and the riders are all pretty good. 

Cyc: Do you find it tough on the colder days?

TP: If you put enough kit on you're fine. There’s never such a thing as bad weather, just bad clothing choices. 

Cyc: Do you ride on a fully fledged winter bike?

TP: Nope. I used to, but to be honest I don’t even miss my winter bike. 

When I was 15 I had full mudguards and all that. You get told off in Yorkshire if you go out with no mudguards. You always had to have a mud flap as well, so basically there’s only an inch at the bottom of your wheel which can spray.

But these days people just don’t seem to ride with mudguards.

Cyc: Would you ever consider moving somewhere warmer for training, Girona for instance?

TP: If Brexit happens I’m moving, I don’t know where. But Brexit’s not going to happen anymore is it? Imagine flying somewhere after Brexit, who even knows what the arrangements might be to travel to compete professionally with my kit and bike. 

I’d rather not have to deal with that and have to try and train and perform and all that as well. 

Cyc: Do you worry that you’ll have to do time with a smaller ProConti European team before moving up to the WorldTour?

TP: Well hopefully that will never have to happen. I think the further you go up the rankings, you’ve got more sway to be in charge of what you’re going to do. But obviously you’ve got to have the results and stuff to make that happen.

Cyc: What sort of rider would you like to be in the future?

TP: It’s difficult to say – I don’t know what sort of rider I’ll be. I like the Classics better but I don’t know if I’ll be able to compete there. I’m a small guy so it’s not ideal.

Cyc: Do you think you could hang in at the senior Paris-Roubaix race?

TP: It’s a bloody long way, that’s the only thing. I’d finish, but to be able to perform well at that distance, I don’t think so. Not yet.

Cyc: What has been your favourite race?

TP: I’ve always liked races like the Tour de Yorkshire. That’s probably because I know so many people there. It’s just like the National Champs in Bradford, when I was a junior. It was a home race, the crowds were pretty incredible.

Cyc: Do you feel like a celebrity in Yorkshire?

TP: Yeah everyone knows me there. But it’s not like ‘look it’s Tom Pidcock!’ it’s just, ‘oh, hi Tom’. Everyone knows me, not ‘knows of’ me.

Cyc: Having won so much, do you feel an increasing sense of pressure not to lose, rather than the excitement about winning?

TP: At low points I feel that people put too much pressure on me and I’m not as good as they say. But in reality, I think the expectations people have do match my ability and most days I realise that.

Cyc: Who do you consider your idol in cycling?

TP: Cav and Brad were my idols when I first started – the guys who were the best riders when I just started caring about watching cycling. 

Cyc: What would your advice be for riding on the cobbles?

TP: People say put it in a big gear, but just ride whatever gear you want. And it’s always easy in the gutter. 

Cyc: What’s the worst crash you’ve had in your career so far?

TP: I’ve never broken a bone yet, which is good. But last year Paris Eras, 60kmh 400m from the finish line and I was leading out Gabs and I forgot there was a left hand corner with 350m to go.

I looked behind to see where he was and then everyone in front of me went right to go left. They then took me out and then all these people landed on top of me. I rolled pretty well. I had cuts everywhere but none of them were that bad. I cracked my frame though.

Cyc: Do you tend to always enjoy your training on the road?

TP: There are always days that you don’t enjoy training. But sometimes you just do what you’ve gotta do. It’s on your training so you’ve just got to do it.

Cyc: How do you get around those days when motivation is low?

TP: I play Xbox. I get the day done, go to sleep, and get up the next day and train.

Cyclist spoke to Tom Pidcock in Mallorca during the launch of Le Col's new Spring and Summer 2019 range, as guests of Le Col.