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Tom Pidcock is having fun at his first grand tour.
The multi-discipline rider is making his three-week debut at the Vuelta a España just weeks after winning gold in the mountain bike event.
With his focus on mountain bike gold until earlier this month, it was nearly eight weeks since his last competitive road appearance when he lined up in Burgos on Saturday.
Thankfully for Pidcock, he’s had a relatively gentle easing into grand tour racing with the predicted crosswinds failing to materialize over the opening days.
“It’s been nice. It’s been very relaxed so far. It has been stressful at times but with the headwind on most stages it has been very chill. It has been good for me to steadily get into it after some time away after the Olympics,” Pidcock said at the start of stage 6.
Pidcock’s first WorldTour season has been split between his ambitions on the mountain bike and gaining experience on the road. Along with his success at the Olympics, he has notched up some strong results including a win at Brabantse Pijl.
Despite this, Pidcock came into the Vuelta a España with little pressure on his shoulders as the team focuses on GC success in a three-pronged attack consisting of Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz, and Adam Yates.
There was talk in the build-up that Pidcock might look for a GC result himself, but he quickly dispelled that in his pre-race press conference.
In addition to learning the ropes, the 22-year-old’s main aim is to keep his leaders out of trouble. Aside from Yates losing a small amount of time behind a crash on stage 2, the Ineos Grenadiers riders have avoided the worst of the spills at the Vuelta a España.
While he might have other responsibilities, he does have potential stage victories in the back of his mind. Thursday’s punchy uphill finish on the third category Alto de la Montaña de Cullera could be an opportunity to reach out for a win, but he cannot forget his primary job.
“I think it does suit me, but I don’t know how I feel. The important thing is that I am here to help Egan, Adam, and the team but if I come to the climb and I feel good then there’s no reason why I can’t see where my shape is at,” Pidcock said.