Is Tom Pidcock a future Tour de France winner? ‘Nothing is excluded’
A thrilling victory atop Alpe d'Huez only raises expectations about Pidcock's grand tour future. His coach says 'we are going to see his limits.'
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Tom Pidcock blew everyone away Thursday in a spectacular show to win atop Alpe d’Huez, the most famous mountain at the Tour de France.
No one questions the 22-year-old’s cycling pedigree, but is Pidcock yellow jersey material as a potential grand tour winner?
The Ineos Grenadiers Tour rookie is quickly demonstrating he might be.
Pidcock said as much Thursday when he made clear his ambitions reach far beyond winning individual stages, comparing himself to the likes of Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogačar.
“I’m ambitious, I’m here to learn, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot,” Pidcock said. “I think I have bigger ambitions in this race in the future for sure after this experience.”
When the Tour started in Denmark on July 1, Ineos Grenadiers officials muted the GC expectations for Pidcock in his Tour debut. Team boss Rod Ellingworth said Pidcock was racing the Tour “to learn,” and not have any pressure to perform on GC.
Last year, Pidcock made it through the Vuelta a España riding quietly in 67th, telling VeloNews in an interview last year he would like to target GC in a grand tour “in the future.”
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That future is now.
Pidcock’s multifaceted skills in cyclocross and mountain biking helped him safely negotiate the landmines in the first week, and despite a wobble in stage 11 over the Col du Galibier when he was distanced by the GC favorites, Pidcock is proving himself in the high mountains.
‘Nothing is excluded at the moment’
He starts Friday’s 13th stage in eighth at 7:39 back. Anywhere in the top-10 in Paris would exceed pre-Tour expectations.
“The extent of his talent, I don’t know where he goes from here, really,” said 2012 Tour winner Bradley Wiggins. “We say that every time he does something, but it is amazing. It truly is amazing.”
Pidcock’s rise comes just as Ineos Grenadiers is trying to reinvent itself following a decade of dominance in the Tour.
The team won seven yellow jerseys with four different riders in a span of eight years, with three of them British, with Wiggins, Chris Froome, and Geraint Thomas. Colombian Egan Bernal won the team’s final yellow jersey in 2019.
Since then, Jumbo-Visma and UAE Team Emirates have dominated the Tour, with Tadej Pogačar winning back to back yellow jerseys, and Jumbo-Visma finishing second each time.
Thomas hailed his younger teammate, who followed in his footsteps to win at Alpe d’Huez.
“He’s a super talent, he has been riding really well,” Thomas said. “It’s great to see him do well. Second Brit to win up here, it’s a nice accolade to have.”
Ineos Grenadiers has a deep crop of young talent, and Ellingworth said the team will be focusing on developing such riders as Pidcock, Magnus Sheffield, Carlos Rodriguez, and Luke Plapp.
Pidcock’s coach Kurt Bogaerts told Wielerfliets that no one knows Pidcock’s full potential yet in three-week grand tours.
“Nothing is excluded at the moment,” Bogaerts told Wielerfliets. “We’re going to see how much he can achieve and what his limits are. Win the Tour de France? It is not excluded. He has several attributes to compete in to win a grand tour. He can time trial, ride uphill and is sensible. It will also depend on the resistance there is. Everyone has their limits and where are Tom’s? We will see that in the future.”
The UK has delivered three yellow jerseys, with Wiggins, Froome, and Thomas.
Could Pidcock be the fourth?
In the wake of his spectacular Alpe d’Huez victory, the Tour de France yellow jersey hype machine is kicking into a higher gear.
Pidcock is taking it all in stride.
“It’s made my Tour de France so far, even if something happens and I get dropped every day, I don’t care,” he said. “A stage win in my first Tour, it’s not bad, is it?”