Tom Pidcock relishing challenge and ‘exploring my limits’ at Tour de France
Tom Pidcock believes he is learning more about himself and his capabilities on a bike as he tests himself in the general classification at the Tour de France.
The 23-year-old Olympic mountain bike champion went into Monday’s rest day seventh overall, five minutes 26 seconds off yellow having picked up time on a number of rivals as he finished fourth amongst the overall contenders after a breakaway triumphed on Sunday’s stage atop the Puy de Dome.
Pidcock, who memorably won the stage on the Alpe d’Huez on his Tour debut last summer, began this year’s race wanting to see if he had the discipline and consistency to stay high on the general classification, not having a bad day across the full three weeks.
As he sat exhausted at the top of the mountain on Sunday he had said he still wanted a stage win “and then I’ll be happy”, but when he spoke on Monday Pidcock was looking at the bigger picture.
“I’m enjoying it,” the Ineos Grenadiers rider said. “I’m getting a bit better. With each test I’m improving and staying near the front, it’s actually motivating me.
“Before if you’d said racing for top 10 I wouldn’t really be so bothered but actually now I’m really enjoying the challenge and each little win.
“I wouldn’t normally have the patience and focus required for three weeks riding the GC, it’s not really in my characteristics but now I’m kind of enjoying it. It’s my first actual time riding with senior pros in a proper stage race like this, it’s all kind of new and I’m enjoying it…
“I’m growing in confidence and just exploring my limits.”
After Michael Woods won from a breakaway, Sunday’s stage saw Tadej Pogacar take eight seconds out of defending champion and race leader Jonas Vingegaard’s advantage in their battle for yellow.
But Simon Yates and Pidcock were the next riders over the line, a result that moved the Yorkshireman up two places from ninth overall.
“Yesterday was a great day and if I can replicate that again, that’s fantastic,” Pidcock said. “The next two weeks now, there are some pretty tough days ahead, back-to-back days and three days in the Alps and it’s going to be a big test.
“Week two into week three is where cracks start to show. My goal is to be consistent. Personally, in my head, it’s becoming more of a challenge and a target to see where I can go on GC because I’m enjoying it.
“If that means I don’t get a stage win maybe that’s the case but I feel I can learn a lot about myself if I fully commit to the GC now.”
Pidcock has ambitions to one day challenge for yellow himself in the Tour, but for now the former world cyclo-cross champion continues to compete across different disciplines – and will be back on his mountain bike at next month’s world championships in Scotland.
How these next two weeks go will tell Pidcock a lot about what he might be able to do in the future.
“As soon as we finish this race I’m going to be going to try and win the mountain bike worlds, which is not very normal for all the people I’m racing against, it’s a bit strange,” he said when asked if this Tour was making him change the way he thinks about balancing his goals.
“I don’t know. We’ll see in a week’s time.”
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