Tom Pidcock: "I want to become the best rider in the world"

"Mathieu van der Poel and Wout van Aert were role models, now to race against them and try to beat them is a nice feeling," Britain's 21-year-old versatile rider told us.

By Alessandro Poggi
Picture by 2020 Getty Images

A strong climber, a competitive time-triallist, a talented classic racer: Team GB’s new cycling phenom Tom Pidcock is all in one. And he can perform on basically every terrain: road, dirt, or mud.

At just 21 years of age, the Yorkshire-born rider has already shown a lot of potential both at junior and senior level, with the possibility of following in the footsteps of other British cycling stars, such as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Froome, and Geraint Thomas.

But what makes INEOS Grenadiers' latest signing different from them is a versatility across various disciplines (in his case road, MTB, and cyclo-cross), which seems the trademark of some of the best cyclists of the last decade, from three-time road world champion Peter Sagan to four-time cyclo-cross world champion Mathieu van der Poel.

“There’s not a specific discipline or a specific race [that I want to win]. I want to become the best rider in the world,” Pidcock told the Olympic Channel.

In 2020 the English rider won the general classification at Giro Ciclistico d'Italia (or Baby Giro, the U-23 version of the Giro d’Italia), later clinched the U-23 MTB world title, and in January 2021 just fell short of his second consecutive elite world medal in cyclo-cross with a fourth place at the world champs in Ostend, Belgium.

But there was no time for rest.

The 2021 road season started in impressive fashion for Pidcock and his new team, with a third place on his debut at the Kuunre-Brussel-Kuurne classic in Belgium, ahead of the Strade Bianche in Italy on Saturday (6th March).

We sat down with him to talk about his idols, his ambitions and his Olympic dreams.

Olympic Channel (OC): You wanted to finish the cyclo-cross season at all costs, what do you love about this cycling discipline?

Tom Pidcock (TP): The biggest thing for cyclo-cross is the benefit for the road season. It's certainly a very difficult sport, I envy road riders sometimes when they get a nice winter off. But I think this is very important for the road season and then it becomes its own challenge in itself.

OC: Why do you enjoy racing in three different disciplines?

TP: I think because I can. They all complement each other very well and make me a more rounded rider. So why not?

OC: You're facing other two multi-discipline cycling stars like Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, what do they represent for you?

TP: These guys were role models for me when I was growing up. So now that I'm here racing against them and trying to actually become in their league and try to beat them, it's a nice feeling.

OC: You are showing a lot of potential in different disciplines and different type of races... but what was your dream when you started cycling?

TP: I want to become the best rider in the world. I want to be a guy like Peter Sagan, the best road rider in the world. I want to become a name like that, a household name. That's what I want to do.

"I don't want to specifically win anything. I just want to kind of become the best" - Tom Pidcock

OC: Who did you look up to while growing up?

TP: The guys I first started watching were (Bradley) Wiggins and (Mark) Cavendish, they're the first guys I remember watching on TV. So these are my real idols.

OC: They started Britain's road cycling tradition with Team Sky, you have now joined the team that carries its mantle: how can you improve with INEOS Grenadiers?

TP: It's difficult to answer, really. I think the biggest thing is that you step up to a higher level, you race at higher level against yet better riders and for a longer time.

That's the biggest thing that will help develop me, and also learning from the experience of the other guys in the team as well.

OC: One last question, how much are you looking forward to the Olympics in Tokyo (in 2021)? In what discipline do you plan to compete?

TP: I want to go to the Olympics in mountain bike, but I think there is also a chance I could go on the road as well.

The first Olympic memories are from 2012, watching the road race on Box Hill and then the disappointment when Cavendish didn't win.

But yes, this event in the summer brings everyone together and everyone talks about the Olympics, it's a great thing and I hope it can still go ahead this year.

Tom Pidcock on his way to clinching his second cyclo-cross national title in February 2020.
Picture by 2020 Getty Images