Tom Pidcock will start as Great Britain's best hope for a medal in the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships on September 26 but, according to national coach Matt Brammeier, the team will be more than just a one-man show, with lingering questions over Pidcock’s form this late into the season.
In what has been a rollercoaster and hugely successful debut road campaign, Pidcock made his Grand Tour debut at the recent Vuelta a España and used the event to gain valuable miles and form but he will not race before the Worlds in Belgium.
Britain's squad was confirmed on Monday, and Brammeier believes that a single leader approach may not be the team’s best strategy.
"We’ve got a good group. There were a few decisions we had to wait on but we’re looking forward to getting stuck in,” Brammeier told Cyclingnews.
"Tom isn’t on top of his game at the moment and we saw at the Vuelta that he had a few decent days but to go in and say he can win with the form and condition he has… you never know with him but we’ve got a good group."
Along with the mountain bike Olympic champion, the team head to Belgium with former world champion Mark Cavendish and the in-form Ethan Hayter, who, like Pidcock, has enjoyed a breakout season in the WorldTour.
Jake Stewart has already impressed this year and Brammeier is leaning on a collective approach in order to safeguard as many possible candidates for the latter stages of the men’s road race.
"Ethan is in the form of his life. Jake Stewart and Fred Wright are going well - everyone on that list is really. Luke [Rowe] and Ben [Swift] have been training well, Mark is coming into some good form, so it’s a good group for that course. We’ll play our cards and see how it unfolds," Brammeier said.
"I don’t think anyone is going to be a protected rider. Obviously, we’ll have the guys we lean on at the start of the race to cover early moves but with Cav, I don’t think he’s going to go to the finish. I think that it’s unrealistic to say that he’ll go to the finish of a Worlds like this.
"It’s not going to be a sprint but when it comes to a fight for position he’s one of the best in the world. He’s good at fighting and putting the guys in the right place at the right time. He’s good at steering the guys in front of him so that’s why he’s in the team. He also brings a lot off the bike, with all his experience. He’s been there and done it and we’ve got such a young group. Cavendish adds to the older guard."
According to the road coach, Pidcock has been in daily contact with regards to the Worlds, and while he readily acknowledges that the multi-disciplined rider is the team’s standout candidate on paper, the effects from a long season are also a major factor.
"Of course he’s our best guy and best rider on results," Brammeier said.
"He won De Brabantse Pijl on almost an identical course and he’s our lead rider but we’re not going to go in with a strategy to just support him by sacrificing everyone else’s chances and opportunities. It could be a real lottery so we’ll try and cover all the moves with what we’ve got.
"Tom had quite a big push up to the Olympics and that took quite a bit out of him, emotionally and physically. Going into the Vuelta was an unknown and he’s not worn out. He’s calling and messaging me every day but we just think that he’s not in the right shape to go and nail his hat to the wall and say he wants a win."
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