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Tom Pidcock won’t be sauntering through the spring.
Officials confirmed to VeloNews that Pidock will ride a relentless classics program that stretches from the “opening weekend” late February through the cobblestone and Ardennes races.
Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche, Milano-Sanremo, Tour of Flanders, Amstel Gold Race, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège headline a spring schedule that bursts with ambition as Pidcock, 22, looks to back up his breakout 2021 road season.
And let’s not forget that all this will come just four weeks after Pidcock takes startline of the Fayetteville ‘cross worlds, where he starts as top favorite next weekend.
Ambitious? You got it.
Tom Pidcock’s early season schedule:
- Volta ao Algarve: February 16-20
- Omloop Het Nieuwsblad: February 26
- Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne: February 27
- Strade Bianche: March 5
- Milano-Sanremo: March 19
- Dwars door Vlaanderen: March 30
- Tour of Flanders: April 3
- Amstel Gold Race: April 10
- De Brabantse Pijl: April 13
- La Flèche Wallonne: April 20
- Liège-Bastogne-Liège: April 24
- Giro d’Italia: May 6-29
Pidcock, Ineos Grenadiers with a point to prove
Pidcock will get his road wheels rolling in Portugal at the Volta ao Algarve, less than three weeks after flying back from Fayetteville.
It will start a season that will see the Brit look to prove himself on par with Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel after he stormed through his rookie spring in the WorldTour.
- Pidcock looks to level up to van Aert, van der Poel in 2022
- Ineos Grenadiers aims for one-day wins in 2022
Victory at De Brabantse Pijl and a string of top one-day results saw Pidcock mentioned in the same breath as his cross-discipline comrades last year. 2022 is the year he wants to solidify his reputation.
“I believe that I am as good as [van Aert and van der Poel], or will be as good as them,” Pidcock told VeloNews last month.
“I think they’re the top echelon of the sport, so it’s great to be placed next to them. Some people seem to think I’m there now, but I need more results to really be next to them, let’s be honest. And so that’s what I’m going to work to achieve.”
Pidcock will take center stage at the Ineos Grenadiers classics crew as he and riders like Dylan van Baarle and Michał Kwiatkowski work to fill the team’s surprisingly sparse spring trophy cabinet.
“We will certainly continue with stage races but we also want to win an important one-day race,” team director Matteo Tosatto told Tuttobici earlier this year. “We touched it with Tom Pidcock at the Amstel Gold Race and in a certain sense we had it with Richard Carapaz in the Tokyo Olympics, but it was the national team and not ours.”
A Giro d’Italia debut with what he calls a “free role” and a shot at mountain bike worlds will follow for Pidcock as he shoulders the burden of both his own and his team’s huge expectations.
A new landscape
The broadening of horizons from Ineos Grenadiers’ focus on stage racing confirms the team’s confidence in what Pidcock can do. But spring could have an altogether different dynamic this year.
Doubts remain over when van der Poel will be racing as he continues suffering from back problems, while Jumbo-Visma is set to be stronger after investing in its one-day division in the off-season. TotalEnergies is looking to shake things up after it invested in Peter Sagan and Co, while Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl will keep doing what Quick-Step does.
The two-horse duel between “MvdP” and “WvA” will be subsumed into a bigger battle between a few top teams. Ineos Grenadiers will have to work hard to hold the wheels.
And unlike last year, Pidcock won’t be afforded the elbow room he perhaps enjoyed in the earliest of races in 2021.
Teams like Quick-Step and Jumbo-Visma will keep Pidcock on a close leash this spring. Yet the Brit believes he’s got a bigger engine and keener racing brain than before, and his confidence sure doesn’t need any boosting.
From Omloop through Liège via Strade and Sanremo, Pidcock is looking to punch above his 60-kilo weight class in early 2022.
His most ruthless rival could be his ability to shoulder the strain of his own unlimited outlook.