In an interview with MBR.co.uk, Tom Pidcock revealed his aspirations ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. The Briton is still confident that he can successfully secure the Olympic gold in the XCO discipline, despite being hit by a driver at speed while training on his time trial bike.
The crash broke his collarbone in five places while his Pinarello Bolide time trial bike suffered a more permanent demise. Two weeks post-surgery, in which around 10 surgical screws were fitted to hold everything in place, and Pidcock is already back on the bike having amassed over 24 hours of training in a week.
“I’ve had a setback that I need to overcome, but it shouldn’t really affect me," Pidcock said. "I think I had five days off, and another one with the Covid vaccine and it was horrible, so I lost five or six days. But I was going to have five or six days after the Tour of Swiss anyway, which I would have ridden. So actually it didn’t affect the planning too much.”
The turnaround has been so quick that Pidcock is confident the crash hasn’t affected his Olympic preparation. The true measure of its effect will be the next round of the UCI World Cup XCO, to be held in the ski resort of Les Gets on the 2-4 July. The XCO course will see some new technical features and should be the stage for some exciting racing as well as the grounds upon which Pidcock can further test his form and mettle (and metal plates).
“I should be at my best still. I’m only going to ride my mountain bike the week before the Les Gets World Cup, it’s all up the road at the moment so I don’t jar the shoulder. The only thing is I might lack a bit of confidence at Les Gets but that should be fine.”
Road to Olympic gold
Pidcock started the year with a bang finishing fourth at Cyclo-cross Worlds before mixing it up at the sharp end of the road racing field with stellar showings at the Spring Classics - Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo were cases in point and a win at De Brabantse Pijl capped off a fine campaign. But it's on the dirt where he's most happy. He exploded onto the Elite XCO mountain bike scene, winning his second race (he finished fifth in his first, overtaking 70 riders after suffering a puncture in Albstadt, Germany) and becoming the first UK winner in the men’s XC World Cup since 1994. Pidcock's win at Nova Mesto has only bolstered his confidence for Olympic success.
“At first when I had the option to go for the mountain bike or road races I was thinking I should commit to the mountain bike as I have a good chance of getting a medal. But now after the last World Cup in Nove Mesto, I’m going to win. That’s where I’m aiming for.”
When Tokyo 2020 finally arrives, Pidcock will be facing a stacked field, racing head-to-head with some of the biggest names in XCO: World Champion Jordan Sarrou, fellow road prodigy Mathieu Van der Poel and, arguably the greatest XCO racer of all time, Nino Schurter who will be out to defend his Olympic title from 2016. Joining Pidcock in Tokyo is Evie Richards, the reigning U23 XCO Women's British National Champion who currently races for Trek Factory Racing.
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Pidcock will be racing an unbranded BMC Fourstroke for his 2021 mountain bike calendar as Pinarello, the bike sponsor for Ineos Grenadiers, doesn’t currently possess a mountain bike in its range. We have already seen Pidcock riding a bike equipped with SR Suntour suspension, Duke wheels and components from Shimano and PRO, as he is in the unique position of having a lot of freedom to choose components from different manufacturers. Such is the case that there have been various spec tweaks and testing including potentially using Syncros’ ultra-light Silverton SL wheels and Fraser iC SL integrated bar and stem.
Whether Pidcock is successful or not, the Olympic Games represents just another goal to scratch off his ambitious cycling wishlist, which includes racing a World Cup downhill race and competing in Red Bull Rampage.
"Honestly, I think I was born to do mountain biking, " he remarked after winning Nova Mesto. "It sounds stupid, but it's what I have done since I was little and what I've enjoyed the most.”
While the Red Bull Rampage might be more of a fantasy than a reality, if Ineos Grenadiers are able to give Pidcock the green light on more mountain biking it would be interesting to see what he's capable of achieving in gravity-orientated racing space. No stranger to the lift-accessed downhill trails of Morzine, it doesn’t take much scrolling of Pidcocks Instagram to see that he has some serious bike handling skills.