Leeds rider Pidcock focused on home World Championships after crash comeback
When Tom Pidcock awoke in a French hospital last month, bloodied and bruised from a nasty crash and “high on painkillers”, he was sure of at least one thing: he would still race at the UCI Road World Championships on home turf in Yorkshire.
The 20-year-old Leeds rider – one of the most exciting prospects in British cycling – had come from winning Tour Alsace and was showing outstanding form at the Tour de l’Avenir, a key race for under-23 riders, well positioned to challenge for victory on stage six before suffering a dramatic crash.
“I woke up in hospital, I saw the clock and it was 5pm,” said Pidcock, who will line up for Great Britain in Friday’s under-23 men’s road race. “I didn’t really know what was going on. I was high on drugs and painkillers.
“But I could move and everything so though I knew I wasn’t in the race anymore, I knew I could still get to the World Champs.”
The scars are still visible on his face, a front tooth missing, and Pidcock says he has been getting stiffness in his knee during the two and a half weeks he has been back on his bike since the crash.
But there was never any question he wanted to race here.
“A World Champs at home is probably only going to happen once in my lifetime, for sure in Yorkshire,” said Pidcock, already a two-time cyclo-cross world champion and junior time trial world champion in 2017.
“Maybe it will happen somewhere else in England, but certainly this is the biggest motivation you can have.”
Racing at home has its pros and cons. Pidcock admitted he needed to adjust his mindset after arriving at Team GB’s hotel on the edge of Harrogate, because the 15-mile journey from home made it feel like he was heading to a local club race.
But home roads mean that Pidcock’s disrupted preparations – he missed out on a fortnight he planned to spend learning Friday’s 187km route between Doncaster and Harrogate – might matter less.
“I haven’t ridden the course as much as I’d like but I know where I’m going,” he said.
Pidcock has never started a race he did not intend to win, but with few clues as to his own form, plenty of different scenarios for Friday have run through his head.
“I’ve dreamt of coming second by two millimetres and then thought ‘would I be p***** off or not?’” he said. “And I think as long as I did my best, I can’t complain. I’ve come from a bad situation and whatever I get will be a bonus.”
Friday’s race will pit Pidcock against riders like Jasper Philipsen, who rode the Tour de France aged 21 this summer, and Norwegian Tobias Foss, who will join Jumbo-Visma in the winter.
Plenty of WorldTour teams have made offers to Pidcock too, but he has no plans make the step up until 2021 because he wants to “enjoy being young”.
“The reason why riders go to the WorldTour, it’s almost like they’ve made it and they’re secure, but I am secure,” he said.
“There’s no rush. There’s nothing in the WorldTour that I need or that I want right now. I want to enjoy racing and winning.
“When you go to the WorldTour it gets serious. I can still enjoy messing around and winning races.”