Teenager Tom Pidcock proving to be best of British

SADDLED FOR SUCCESS: Leeds teenager Tom Pidcock enjoyed a successful 2017, winning junior world titles in cyclo-cross and road racing last year.  Pictures: SWPix/Bruce Rollinson/Jonathan Gawthorpe
SADDLED FOR SUCCESS: Leeds teenager Tom Pidcock enjoyed a successful 2017, winning junior world titles in cyclo-cross and road racing last year. Pictures: SWPix/Bruce Rollinson/Jonathan Gawthorpe
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Of all the memories he forged in a dominant 2017, the one that stands out most for teenage Yorkshire rider Tom Pidcock is a triumph that best represents the depth of talent coming through the British cycling ranks, rather than his own personal glory.

Pidcock won junior world titles in cyclo-cross and road racing last year, as well as claiming the novice version of one of the great Monument Classics of cycling.

But the fact he was joined on the podium by two compatriots for one of those accomplishments is the lasting image he will take from a year which he may never replicate again, no matter how great he goes on to become.

Because late last January, the emotions of winning the junior cyclo-cross world title in Luxembourg were eclipsed when he looked over his shoulder to see the two men following him over the line were Britons, in Daniel Tullett and fellow Yorkshire lad Ben Turner.

“The cross worlds were probably the highlight, getting three British riders on the podium made it pretty special,” says the 18-year-old from Leeds.

“It was quite emotional crossing that line and then standing with two friends on the podium. That’s unheard of in British cross. It’s usually Belgian or Dutch guys.”

SADDLED FOR SUCCESS: Leeds teenager Tom Pidcock enjoyed a successful 2017, winning junior world titles in cyclo-cross and road racing last year.  Pictures: SWPix/Bruce Rollinson/Jonathan Gawthorpe

SADDLED FOR SUCCESS: Leeds teenager Tom Pidcock enjoyed a successful 2017, winning junior world titles in cyclo-cross and road racing last year. Pictures: SWPix/Bruce Rollinson/Jonathan Gawthorpe

As far as reflections on 2017 go, that is as far as Pidcock can be pushed.

Victories at the junior Paris-Roubaix in April and in the junior time-trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen in September – where he had been targeting the road race and not the time-trial – maintained his astonishing form throughout the year.

But other than to greet suggestions of a remarkable season with a shrug of the shoulders and a simple “I guess it was, yeah”, Pidcock has already consigned 2017 to history and turned his attentions to the campaign ahead.

That begins tomorrow in Sunderland, when the reigning British junior cyclo-cross champion aims to take his dominance up an age group by winning the Under-23s race.

I love the fun of it. You’re always on the limit, you’re always close to crashing and you need to be highly-skilled while riding flat out.

Tom Pidcock, on competing in cyclo-cross

After that, he will look to continue forging his reputation on the international stage at next month’s cyclo-cross world championsghips in Valkenburg, Holland, when again the sands of time have decreed he can not defend the junior title he won last year as he is now eligible for the Under-23s version.

Despite the elevation, he heads to Valkenburg as one of the favourites having won four races this winter and with it the World Cup title in his debut season at the higher level.

“At first it was daunting going up against riders four years older than me, but not any more,” he says. “I’m competing for the win in every race now and have a few victories under my belt.”

Already it appears the good vibes from last year have continued. Looking back he cannot identify one thing which clicked that led to such a fruitful period other than hard work and his passion for the sport, particulalrly cyclo-cross.

SADDLED FOR SUCCESS: Leeds teenager Tom Pidcock enjoyed a successful 2017, winning junior world titles in cyclo-cross and road racing last year.  Pictures: SWPix/Bruce Rollinson/Jonathan Gawthorpe

SADDLED FOR SUCCESS: Leeds teenager Tom Pidcock enjoyed a successful 2017, winning junior world titles in cyclo-cross and road racing last year. Pictures: SWPix/Bruce Rollinson/Jonathan Gawthorpe

“I love the fun of it,” he offers. “You’re always on the limit, you’re always close to crashing and you need to be highly-skilled while riding flat out.”

Cycling is in Pidcock’s blood. His father Giles is a club cyclist and the man behind the hugely-successful Otley Cycle Races.

He has been a guiding hand throughout his son’s formative cycling years, alongside Seth Smith, another rider from Skipton who introduced Pidcock junior to cyclo-cross.

While the immediate future might be caked in the mud of cyclo-cross trails, Pidcock has his eyes trained on the road as the place where he hopes to make a name for himself in the seniors.

To aid that, he has signed his first senior contract with Team Wiggins, the squad in the name of the British Cycling great that is designed to give youth a chance.

And Pidcock is hoping to show what he can do for his new employers on home roads later this year.

“Right now I’m focusing on the cross, but signing for Wiggins for the road is just supplementary to that. It means I can still do road at a high level,” he says. “And hopefully I’ll be making my debut for Team Wiggins at the Tour de Yorkshire.

“And then beyond that I definitely want to ride the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, that would be something special.

“I’m just taking the future as it comes, because right now I just love doing what I’m doing. Maybe in five years I’d like to be on the road full-time.

“I don’t think I’ll be a grand tour rider, it just doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not much of a climber. The one-day races are more appealing to me.

“Ultimately, the world champion’s rainbow jersey from the road race is the honour that I want above all else.”

After the year he has had, who would bet against Pidcock one day achieving that?

Certainly, his efforts in 2017 have not gone unnoticed, with fellow riders and members of the public this week voting him as the Great Britain Cycling Team’s rider of the year.

“If I knew what it was I’d bottle it and sell it,” he laughs. “I guess we’ll just see if I’ve still got it in 2018.”