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Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) admitted that he had been apprehensive when Wout van Aert made the winning attack in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday. The Jumbo-Visma rider attacked just ahead of the final climb with around 13km to go and left behind a select group of riders, including Pidcock.
Despite a late chase Van Aert hung on to take his first victory in his first road race of the entire season. Pidcock would eventually finish in a group some 27 seconds down and in 18th place.
“I was good. When Wout went I was a little bit apprehensive. That climb doesn’t exactly suit me, that one. I thought that I’d wait and then try and follow everyone else. Then Wout was gone, and in a group of that size, he wasn’t going to come back. There was a bit of crosswind so it was ideal.”
Pidcock came into the race talking down his chances. On the eve of action, he told VeloNews that he had not yet reached his peak road form and that he was aiming to peak later in the spring. However, the cyclocross world champion was present and accounted for when van Aert’s teammate Tiesj Benoot made a stinging attack in the last hour of the race.
Only three other riders, including Pidcock and van Aert, could follow and the British rider was pleased with his condition at this point in the campaign.
“I think so actually,” Pidcock said when asked if he had been surprised by his own performance.
“When we went on the Berendries, on Tiesj’s wheel that was hard but that was hard for everyone. It was hard but there were good signs. I’m happy.”
Pidcock elaborated on why Van Aert was able to gain such a gap with such a powerful attack, noting that the rider’s move caused hesitation in the lead group.
“Two guys tried to go with him but couldn’t,” Pidcock said.
“Then everyone was thinking about second. I was going really well today, and I was surprised with my shape. Now just the head needs to be in the right place. Wout went at a good time because at that point everyone was thinking about the Bosberg and he went before. Everyone was a bit surprised by that.”
Overall Ineos rode well. Magnus Sheffield attacked with around 60km to go and Jhonatan Narváez went with Pidcock when Benoot and Van Aert went clear. Pidcock added that there was much to build on within the British team but he admitted that his focus has been slightly off during the race.
“We have a young team and there’s quite a lot of learning to do but we have a good team to build on. I wasn’t really with it today, I was late to the start and didn’t feel prepared or relaxed enough but I feel more comfortable on the cobbled climbs than I did last year.”