The Briton, who was originally due to return at Dwars door Vlaanderen next week, was a surprise addition to the Ineos Grenadiers line-up for Gent-Wevelgem, which was announced on Saturday afternoon.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at the E3 Saxo Bank Classic on Friday, Ineos manager Rod Ellingworth had expressed confidence that Pidcock remained on track to race the Tour of Flanders despite his bout of illness.
“He’s alright, he’s been training well. He recovered pretty quickly after Milan-San Remo,” Ellingworth told Cyclingnews.
“He’s fine now, he’s been training okay and I think he’s looking forward to the Classics.”
After withdrawing from Strade Bianche, his first major objective of the road season, due to the stomach virus Pidcock undertook a stint of altitude training in Andorra. His returned to action at Milan-San Remo last weekend was then cut short after he was distanced on the Capo Berta and pulled the pin on the 293km race.
Earlier this week, Pidcock’s coach Kurt Boegarts told Het Laatste Nieuws that the Briton had undergone a blood test to try to identify the root of the problem. Ellingworth said that Pidcock’s stomach issue at Milan-San Remo appeared to be a separate issue to the illness that compelled him to miss Strade Bianche.
“No, he trained well before that. I think it was something we couldn’t really put our finger on, to be honest, he just had bad guts,” said Ellingworth. “So we’re not 100% sure, but he seems okay now.”
Pidcock’s dexterity means that his Classics campaign will also encompass Amstel Gold Race, Brabantse Pijl and Flèche Wallonne, where he enjoyed his best results last Spring, as well as a debut at Liège-Bastogne-Liège in late April.
Viewed in that light, the cyclo-cross world champion still has time on his side this Spring, but Ellingworth was confident that he would be back in the peloton for the cobbled Classics.
“Somebody like Tom will always be busy with objectives and he’s got quite a few things he wants to tick off this year, so I’m sure he’ll be back this week,” said Ellingworth, who was speaking before Pidcock's participation in Gent-Wevelgem was confirmed.
“He’s meant to be racing on Wednesday, so fingers crossed he’ll be there. I say it like that, but it just seems to be coming from all directions at the minute.”
The professional peloton has been ravaged by illness in recent weeks and Ellingworth’s Ineos squad has not been spared.
Filippo Ganna misses this weekend’s racing in Belgium as he continues his recovery from the illness that limited him at Milan-San Remo, while Ineos have lost three riders – Richie Porte, Michał Kwiatkowski and Pavel Sivakov – to illness at the Volta a Catalunya this week.
“We’re seeing a lot of people across the peloton getting things and bugs,” Ellingworth said.
“I think as much as we’re doing the maximum we can, it seems like quite a lot of people are getting sick. I noticed Jumbo-Visma started Catalunya with six riders, Jack Haig left the race, and I think a lot of riders yesterday at Coppi e Bartali didn’t start with a similar thing.”
Pidcock will be joined in the Ineos Grenadiers line-up at Gent-Wevelgem by Dylan van Baarle, Jhonatan Narvaez, Elia Viviani, Ben Swift, Ben Turner and Luke Rowe.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.