Tom Pidcock comes through 'horrible' Vuelta a España opener

WAREGEM BELGIUM MARCH 31 Thomas Pidcock of United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers during the 75th Dwars Door Vlaanderen 2021 Mens Elite a 1841km race from Roeselare to Waregem DDV DDV21 FlandersClassic A travers la Flandre on March 31 2021 in Waregem Belgium Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Olympic mountain bike champion Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) made his Grand Tour debut on Saturday, finishing 74th in the opening time trial at the Vuelta a España.

The 22-year-old, who hasn’t raced since taking gold in Tokyo, finished 74th in the 7.1km individual test behind winner and race leader Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) but was content with his performance given his build up to the race.

“That was horrible. I’ve basically had three weeks of holidays. I came and prepared and warmed up and went in wanting to do my best ride but I just didn’t have anything. Up the climb I knew that I couldn’t hold anything and then on the flat I was just cruising home because I couldn’t go deep,” Pidcock said at the finish.

The British rider has only raced one stage race this year with the majority of his programme so far based around one day races and mountain biking but he is at the Vuelta a España to gain experience and help his team leaders Egan Bernal, Adam Yates and Richard Carapaz. 

“First stage and all good in my first Grand Tour.  I would have preferred some longer flat stages to get back into it but it was a hit out I guess to get that top end back a bit,” he said.

Pidcock admitted that his preparation had left him wondering if racing the Vuelta was the perfect move after the Tokyo Games because of the emotional dedication and involvement around his Olympics. However, he added that the experience of racing for three weeks was an important step in his career and that once he finds his road racing rhythm he should play more of a part in the proceedings. 

His 36-second loss to Roglič changes little in terms of his own race given that the GC is not his objective but stage 3 and the first major uphill finish of this year’s race should provide another stern test of the youngster’s current form.

“Honestly, before I was thinking, do I really want to go do a race for three weeks because I won an Olympic medal and that’s something that some people work for their whole lives and don’t achieve. I made sure that I acknowledged that and let it set in but I’m glad that I’m here. It’s going to be good experience and once I get into the racing a bit I won’t be in too bad shape.”

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