Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) admitted that while his preparation for Milan-San Remo was compromised by a slight knee injury, he was happy with his 15th place on his debut in one of the sports big-five Monument Classics.
The British rider has enjoyed a stellar start to his WorldTour career with Ineos, taking third in Kuurne-Brussels-Kurrne followed by fifth in Strade Bianche. On Saturday, he and his Ineos team were front and center on the Cipressa and the Poggio with Luke Rowe and Filippo Ganna playing pivotal roles in the race.
It was the Italian world time trial champion who set a blistering pace on the Poggio with no one able to attack until he had peeled off. Pidcock was present in the small group that formed after Jullian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and last year’s winner Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) attacked towards the top of the climb, and the 21-year-old even put in his own attack on the iconic descent.
He was caught out, like everyone else, when eventual winner Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) coming off the descent of the Poggio.
Pidcock finished 15th in a sprint finish on the Via Roma, pleased with the performance and that he learned a lot during his first WorldTour race of such length.
“It went alright to be fair. It’s my first Monument, 300 kilometres, and I wasn’t really supposed to be there in the final! But I felt really good and I’m pleased with it, for sure – but I want more. I learnt a lot, the team rode really well, and I’m happy,” he said.
Pidcock hadn’t raced since Strade Bianche, and didn’t take part in either of the typical Milan-San Remo warm up events – Paris-Nice or Tirreno Adriatico. A knee injury affected his training programme, and he admitted that his build-up had been less than ideal.
“It’s been a difficult week with slight tendonitis in my knee which made it hard, mentally. I couldn’t do the training I was supposed to, so I didn’t come here with perfect preparation but I think I was pretty good on the day,” he said.
Although Ineos were unable to put a rider in the top 10 and finish off the day with a result that equated to their dominant position they found themselves in on the final two climbs, Pidcock praised the efforts of his teammates.
He explained why his attack on the descent of the Poggio may have failed to gain as much ground as he would have liked.
“The team rode so well for me and [Michal] Kwiatkowski and I were able to follow on the Poggio,” he said.
“Then I thought I’d try a little attack on the descent to see if they’d give me a gap but I didn’t really know where I was going! So that didn’t really work so well. I was a bit too far forward going into the final and the line came up on me fast, but overall I’m happy. It’s a good result to take into the cobbled Classics.”
Pidcock heads to Belgium next week for E3 Saxo Bank Classic and the start of a cobbles campaign that will run all the way through to Gent-Wevelgem and Dwars door Vlanderen.