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Ineos Grenadiers hopeful Tom Pidcock recovers from stomach bug

Pidcock riding Gent-Wevelgem for 'fun' and to build up racing kilometers ahead of the Tour of Flanders.

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Ineos Grenadiers manager Rod Ellingworth is hopeful that Tom Pidcock’s stomach woes are over ahead of some key classics goals.

Pidcock was forced to miss Strade Bianche due to a stomach illness at the start of March. He made a comeback at Milan-San Remo, but was dropped on the Capo Berta as he struggled again with it.

After putting his classics campaign on hold while he recovered, he was a surprise entry onto Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem start list. He is also scheduled to ride Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday ahead of the Tour of Flanders in a week’s time.

“I think it’s like many other riders, there seems to be a lot of illness going around. I think he wasn’t riding Strade and wasn’t feeling good still but thought he was OK but perhaps wasn’t. There are so many things going around at the moment it’s hard to say but he’s fine now,”  Ellingworth told VeloNews at the start of Gent-Wevelgem.

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Despite his short layoff, Ellingworth said that Pidcock had not been too badly ill and that his stomach issues were no more than a regular bug.

“We’ve had three leave Catalunya this week. None of them are proper sick, Tom was never proper sick, he just didn’t feel alright,” Ellingworth said. “It’s mainly sniffles and sore throats and that type of cough and stuff. Who knows, I think it might be a post-COVID thing.

“We haven’t been exposed for two or three years and I think it has to do with that. These lads are on the limit all the time, they’re pushing their immune systems.”

Pidcock was pretty upbeat at the start in Ypres on Sunday morning as he spoke to the press. Like Ellingworth, he is hopeful that his issues are now a thing of the past and is looking to get some proper racing miles in the legs with just eight race days on the road so far for him this year.

There is no pressure for Pidcock at Gent-Wevelgem with Elia Viviani leading the line in the sprinter-friendly classic.

“It hit me quite badly before Strade and it took me a long time to recover. I thought I was ok going into San Remo, but obviously, I wasn’t with extra sugars and pressure on the stomach,” Pidcock said. “I think there’s no magic to work in fixing it, but I think it should be ok. I was going very well before San Remo, and so I was a bit surprised and disappointed afterward.

“Today is just about having fun, enjoy the race and get stuck in and finish with a good feeling. I feel like I’m pretty under-raced, so getting another race is ideal.”

Having Pidcock back in the squad will be a good boost for the team following a race of mixed fortunes at E3 Saxo Bank Classic. The team missed out on the initial selection over the Taaienberg but chased back into the front group before Wout van Aert and Christophe Laporte launched their attack for victory.

In the end, Ineos Grenadiers finished in sixth and eighth with Jhonatan Narvaez and Dylan van Baarle respectively.

“They put themselves back in the bike race, which was great to see. We’ve got quite a young group so it’s good to see them racing in that way. The strongest guys won in the end,” Ellingworth said.