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Cyclocross

Who is Tom Pidcock?

He's dominated the U23 ranks on the road, mountain bike and cyclocross, and now is poised to become the new challenger for van Aert and van der Poel's cross-discipline crown.

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Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel are so 2020. Next year, Tom Pidcock is the cross-discipline star you should be getting excited about.

“If it were up to me, they might be talking about the three of us next year, or in one of the coming seasons,” Pidcock said of himself, van der Poel and Van Aert when speaking with Wielierflits earlier this year. “I expect it from myself and I want to be on the same level.”

Pidcock expects it, and you should, too.

The 21-year-old Brit “came of age” with victory on the notoriously tough Gavere cyclocross circuit Sunday, outclassing triple world champion van der Poel to confirm his arrival at the elite level. As if that wasn’t a promising enough sign of a star in the making, then his signing to British superteam Ineos Grenadiers on a three-year deal sure is.

But who is the diminutive whippersnapper that is set to shake up the WorldTour in 2021?

Pidcock has been lurking just below the radar of the elites through 2019 and 2020, winning the Baby Giro and U23 Paris Roubaix on the road and grabbing gold at the world cyclocross and cross country MTB championships in the mud.

And now Pidcock is scoring results that mark him out as the newest contender for the cross-discipline crown as he heads toward his rookie year in the WorldTour.

The young Brit finished as the best of the rest behind a dominant van der Poel at the ‘cross worlds early this year. Nine months later, he finished as the best Brit at the Imola road worlds in his senior debut in 42nd. This weekend, he gave van der Poel something to worry about for the future when he rode away from the all-conquering Dutchman to score his biggest ‘cross win to date in Gavere.

Don’t expect to hear the end of Pidcock after the cyclocross worlds next January. Heck, that’s where it only begins.

Having long pushed back against the pull of the WorldTour in favor of the freedom of his own Trinity team, Pidcock is diving in at the deep end with a long-term contract with Ineos Grenadiers that will afford him the flexibility to ride on all terrain.

“It’s clear Tom is one of the most exciting young riders in world cycling and part of a new era of incredible all-round talents,” said Ineos boss David Brailsford when he confirmed Pidcock’s contract.

Pidcock has spoken of his interest in grand tour racing, but that he is unlikely to race over three weeks in the coming year. Instead, it’s all about learning the ropes and finding his feet at the top level in mountain biking, cyclocross, and road racing – though his results through the past year suggest he’s already more than done that.

“We’re witnessing a new trend in cycling, with an emergence of young riders who come from a broader, multi-disciplined background,” Brailsford said. “Tom’s career so far really embodies that. He’s competed at the highest level across several disciplines, an incredible bike handler, a natural-born bike racer, and a winner.”

Team boss David Brailsford is taking his new recruit very seriously. It’s time you should, too.