Tom Pidcock is determined to end his cyclo-cross season on a high before embarking on the next chapter in his career at Ineos Grenadiers.
The 21-year-old Briton is among the headliners in the men’s race at the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Ostend, Belgium, where he will compete against Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel in the elite men’s race on Sunday.
Although Pidcock admits that he is a level below the two principal favourites, he still wants to get as close as possible to challenging for a rainbow jersey.
“I don’t think that I am on their level, not yet, honestly,” he told Cyclingnews and members of the British media ahead of Sunday’s race.
“I think that I’m certainly close and that’s my ambition. I want to join their league but at the moment they are the two guys of cyclo-cross. When I do well people say that there are three kings of ‘cross but then I do a race where I’m not as good and then there are only two. I want to try and confirm my place with those guys at the top. That’s my ambition.”
The course in Ostend is dominated by sand sections and that feature has already been pinpointed as decisive in terms of how the race will play out. Pidcock admits that it’s far from his favourite terrain but he will look to be aggressive if the opportunity arises and he’s feeling on form.
“If I take the lead then I ride much faster. Riding my own race has always been my best way of racing and giving my best,” he said.
“This course is sand and the last sand race was Antwerp. That was the only other sand race that I’ve done this year and it’s not my ideal course. It’s probably the worst one for me, for a Worlds course but, at the end of the day, the fittest guys will still be at the front, unless I make many mistakes, which I hope I won’t.”
Pidcock will officially become an Ineos Grenadiers rider a day after his last cyclo-cross race of the season, ending his time with the Trinity Racing squad that was built around his cyclo-cross ambitions.
Although his complete road race programme has yet to be confirmed, the young British rider expressed that the transition into a WorldTour season felt like a natural and progressive move at this stage of his career.
He has already enjoyed huge success on the road in the Under 23 ranks, and had his first taste of the elite UCI Road World Championships in Imola in 2020. Signing for a WorldTour team solidifies his future ambitions on the road.
“This is the end of the journey with Trinity. It’s a big race and I want to do myself and the team proud. That’s important for me. It’s a big thing to finish the season, and then I’ll get home and see my family for the first time in a few months. I’m looking forward to that but I’m trying to stay focused on the weekend,” he said.
“My first race for Ineos was going to be a mountain bike race but that’s been postponed now. I’m still doing mountain bike, road, and ‘cross. That’s the plan. At the moment I’m just focused on the weekend and I’m not entirely sure what the road programme will look like as the first couple of races were postponed. I think I’ll start the Opening Weekend but after that I’m not too sure and it’s something that does need to be figured out after this weekend. I feel very at home already in the team.
“It feels like now is the moment when everything that I’ve done in cycling… that as of Sunday, phase one in my career will have been done and then phase two is about being a full pro in an elite team. That starts on February 1.”