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CALAIS, France (VN) – When VeloNews asked Tom Pidcock what he expected of stage 5 of the 2022 Tour de France between Lille and Arenberg Porte du Hainaut, with its 19 kilometers of cobblestones, the Brit gave a one-word answer.
And will his team, Ineos Grenadiers, be the ones instigating that carnage on Wednesday?
“From what I’ve learned and been told already, in these stages where anything can go wrong, you need to be as conservative as possible if you ride for the GC,” Pidcock said.“So first and foremost, we need to try and keep safe those riders for the GC.”
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Ineos Grenadiers has Dani Martínez, 2018 winner Geraint Thomas, and Adam Yates as potential protected riders.
With the likes of Filippo Ganna and Paris-Roubaix champion Dylan Van Baarle in the team too, the squad is packing a lot of power for the cobbled stage. Pidcock has plenty of pedigree on the pavé, as well as a former junior and U23 Paris-Roubaix winner.
The cobbled sectors all feature in the second half of the 157km stage, with the first at the 80km point, Fressain à Villers-au-Tertre, then ten more sectors in the closing sixty kilometers.
“It’s not designed in a way to create big gaps and have the racing start,” Pidcock added. “The first section will split the race up and cause a bit of carnage, and then we have a long time to reset. So I don’t know.”
Still, causing carnage on the attack is the kind of bike racing he prefers.
“It’s better than riding along on the front with six different teams and drag racing. That’s crap, innit?”
White jersey possibilities
A big shake-up on the cobblestones could benefit the 22-year-old, who sits 10th overall after a strong time trial in Copenhagen, 49 seconds behind leader Wout van Aert and, importantly, 17 behind white jersey wearer Tadej Pogačar.
If he gains time on the road to Arenberg, the white jersey is a possibility for Pidcock.
“It would be nice, but anything can happen in the Tour,” he said.
Pidcock is looking forward to getting stuck into the action.
“The first few days we didn’t really race, it was more just protective and conservative,” he said. “I think now the racing might start.”
A Tour of possibility
The Briton’s debut Tour de France will be a race of discovery.
“There’s no real pressure on me from the team and for myself, I want to enjoy it and see what’s possible. But I’m not here saying I need to win a stage or anything like that, but I think it’s going all right so far. I mean, 10th on GC is not bad. I don’t plan on being there at the end of the Tour.”
Pidcock had benefited from a rapid recovery from COVID-19 after contracting it during the Tour de Suisse. His secret?
“I was eating about ten cloves of garlic a day. I stunk! No, I got over it quite fast. It’s a very weird illness, it was like a COVID cold, so a bad one.”
“I felt weak and it was weird. But once I started recovering, I felt better quite fast. Then I had a cough for about a week after, but I think I’m all good now.”