Tom Pidcock not ready to focus solely on Tour de France despite Ineos ‘pressure’

The 24-year-old Yorkshireman is the reigning Olympic and world mountain bike champion

Ian Parker
Tuesday 17 October 2023 10:54 BST
Tom Pidcock has admitted he faces pressure to focus on the road as he continues to race in multiple disciplines (Red Bull handout)
Tom Pidcock has admitted he faces pressure to focus on the road as he continues to race in multiple disciplines (Red Bull handout)

Tom Pidcock has admitted he faces pressure from the Ineos Grenadiers to put greater focus on the Tour de France but the world and Olympic mountain bike champion is determined to keep enjoying multiple disciplines for a little while longer.

The 24-year-old is seen as a potential future Tour winner but though he took a famous stage victory on the Alpe d’Huez in 2022 and rode to 13th overall this year, the Yorkshireman is yet to concentrate solely on the road, and this year added the world mountain bike title to his Olympic crown.

Pidcock also won the cyclo-cross world title last year, and while his pursuit of multiple goals is delaying the day when he might be ready to chase Tour glory, he believes a varied approach is making him a better all-round rider.

“Maybe I need to specialise in one discipline if I want to win the Tour, but I know that you’ll get the best out of me when I’m happy and when I’m enjoying it,” Pidcock said on the <em>Red Bull</em> Just Ride podcast. “Which is why I love other disciplines…

“Of course I want to win the Tour de France one day but the patience and preparation is massive.

“There is the element (of pressure from the team) and I knew that when I committed long term to the team. I also want it, but in my own way. I want to achieve all the things I believe I can achieve…

“Right now, I’m not ready to win the Tour de France next year yet. There has to be more steps where I achieve things in different disciplines and achieving them makes me a better rider.”

Pidcock was speaking after the Mountain Bike World Cup event in Mont-Sainte-Anne, where he won the cross-country race to continue preparations for his Olympic title defence next summer.

Pidcock has also enjoyed success on the road this season, winning Strade Bianche in March before podium finishes at the Amstel Gold Race and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

But Ineos, a team who won the Tour seven times out of eight between 2012 and 2019, have found themselves left behind at the world’s biggest race in recent years as UAE Team Emirates and Jumbo-Visma have come to the fore, and the Grenadiers need a lift.

While Pidcock could perhaps emerge as a rival if he went all-in, he is reluctant to do so – the three-week slog of the Tour at odds with his instinctive style.

Looking back to his Alpe d’Huez win, he added: “You’re the centre of attention but only for a couple of hours – then you’re back to it with massage and food. Before you know it, you’re on the next stage the next day and there’s a new winner so it’s done.

“Compared to when I won the Olympics where you’re on the front of all the newspapers back home and people want interviews and chats that you could live off for months. With the Tour, it never stops and you have to be ready to race again.”

Pidcock plans to ride the Tour again next summer, but has to balance that with his ambitions in both the mountain bike race and the road race at the Paris Olympics, which begin only eight days after the Tour finishes in Nice.

The tight schedule is behind his decision to keep chasing mountain bike qualification points late into the year.

“By doing these races at the end of the year now, it will mean I don’t have to do the mountain bike races in the spring which will allow me better prep for the Tour,” he said.

“Then I’ll hopefully come out of the end of that in a better condition to cope with the start of the Olympics.”

:: Tom Pidcock is a Red Bull athlete. He was speaking on the latest Red Bull Just Ride podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

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