Tom Pidcock became used to winning at will during his meteoric rise.
Now his biggest hurdle might be tempering his own exponential expectations as he takes top-favorite status into his debut elite cross country mountain bike world championships.
“I’m the favorite to win,” Pidcock told The Independent. “If nothing goes wrong, I should win. But I need to make sure nothing goes wrong.”
Pidcock crushed cyclocross worlds in the winter, swaggered through the classics in spring, and scored historic mountaintop victory at his Tour de France this summer.
The mountain bike world championships in Les Gets on Sunday will have Pidcock reaching for the fattest tires in his bike shed.
Emphatic victory at the European championships last weekend saw the 23-year-old continue to slice through the season like a knife through multi-disciplinary butter.
“I don’t think about it, but I guess it would be a disappointment if I didn’t win [at worlds],” Pidcock said Friday.
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A debut elite worlds Sunday will pose the former U23 world championship and World Cup winner a new type of challenge Sunday.
Defending rainbow jersey and nine-time world champ Nino Schurter carries 13 years’ more experience and sole focus to the startline in a hotly-hyped battle with the reigning Olympic champ.
“The thing I’ve got used to is only being able to meet expectations. I’ve had to change my mindset going into elite races because I can’t take winning for granted,” Pidcock said.
“At juniors and U23s I could win at will, and there I could only meet expectations, I couldn’t exceed them.”
‘Not impossible’ to win all three world titles in 2022
Pidcock found a smooth groove racing with Ineos Grenadiers.
The WorldTour toppers offer their young ace the freedom to race across disciplines while giving him access to the biggest road races on the calendar.
Pidcock’s ambition to win three world titles in one season is one-third complete after victory in Fayetteville this January. The trilogy tracks through Les Get on Sunday before a trip down under for the Wollongong road worlds next month.
“I think it’s more the media that’s given me that goal, than myself. I said it would be nice to win all three titles, and then that became in the same year,” he told Eurosport. “It’s not impossible, but I’ll take it one race at a time.”
Pidcock’s longer-term plan to top the Tour de France is on pause until after the Paris Olympics. In the meantime, he’s all about rainbows.
“The world championships is the race that motivates me the most. The only thing bigger than a world championships is arguably winning the Tour de France,” he said.
“Every year the best rider on the day wins the world champion’s jersey. That has been the main thing that has inspired me in cycling.”