Tom Pidcock didn’t come to the Opening Weekend seeking perfection, but he was nevertheless left to rue a string of mistakes that perhaps prevented him achieving the sort of results that are already expected of him.
Having been instrumental in teasing the race open on the new climbs over the Walloon border with 80km to go, Pidcock was unceremoniously dumped out of the 17-man lead group just ahead of the Beerbosstraat cobbles with 35km to go.
He explained that Jumbo-Visma rider Tiesj Benoot let a gap go as Movistar’s Ivan Garcia Cortina was accelerating, and that was that.
“It was a bit of a mistake on my part. Tiesj took me out the back of the break and I didn’t respond. I kind of let him. So that was my fault,” Pidcock told Cyclingnews.
There was, however, a silver lining. Pidcock felt he was a marked man in the group, which is perhaps why Benoot - who had a fast-finishing teammate of his own in Christophe Laporte, wanted to open the trapdoor. As it was, his absence from the break seemed to spark renewed cooperation, allowing his teammate Jhonatan Narvaez to crack on and make it down to the final three, who were only caught by the bunch 100 metres shy of the line.
“In the end I think that helped the break and helped Jonny. Jonny got within 100 metres of the finish line, and If I was still there… I mean, once I’d gone they were riding full gas, so yeah, if I was there maybe it would have got caught earlier.”
Pidcock must be sick of the sight of Benoot. Jumbo’s new signing was instrumental in setting up Wout van Aert’s victory at the Omloop and was part of one of the errors Pidcock felt he made on Saturday, as they let him disappear up the road ahead of the Muur van Geraardsbergen. Later on in the Omloop, Pidcock regretted his hesitation when Van Aert attacked ahead of the Bosberg.
“I made too many mistakes this weekend, for several reasons,” Pidcock told Cyclingnews.
“Certainly it’s still [about] learning - learning to lead the team and all that.”
That said, Pidcock, talented and precocious as he may be, did not come to Belgium this weekend in need of victory. That will be the case from Strade Bianche next Saturday but for now he took heart from a couple of days spent on the front foot as part of a youthful and inexperienced Ineos Grenadiers Classics group.
“In terms of how we raced as team, today we were pretty impressive in my opinion,” he said. “We took the race on with a young team and the amount we improved from yesterday was phenomenal. That’s a really good sign for the future Classics - this year and the years beyond.”
As such, despite not catching the eye in quite the same way he did here last year on his Classics debut - attacking at Omloop and third at Kuurne - he saw no cause for concern.
“It’s always difficult - or not really right - to say that [the result doesn’t matter], but yes in reality that is right. It’s more about next weekend for me,” Pidcock said.
“To be honest, I felt the level was much higher this Opening Weekend than last year. Today three of best sprinters in the world were here, whereas last year there weren’t any top bunch sprinters, so the level was much higher, but then again we go to Strade Bianche and there are more top guys again.”
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick is an NCTJ-trained journalist who has seven years’ experience covering professional cycling. He has a modern languages degree from Durham University and has been able to put it to some use in what is a multi-lingual sport, with a particular focus on French and Spanish-speaking riders. After joining Cyclingnews as a staff writer on the back of work experience, Patrick became Features Editor in 2018 and oversaw significant growth in the site’s long-form and in-depth output. Since 2021 he has been Deputy Editor - Europe, taking more responsibility for the site’s content as a whole, while still writing and - despite a pandemic-induced hiatus - travelling to races around the world. Away from cycling, Patrick spends most of his time playing or watching other forms of sport - football, tennis, trail running, darts, to name a few, but he draws the line at rugby.