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Tom Pidcock ready to race full gas to avoid a photo finish at La Flèche Wallonne

Brabantse Pijl 2021
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) has promised to race “full gas” at Wednesday’s La Flèche Wallonne, “so no miss-placed photo finish is required,” suggesting he will try to avoid the need for a photo finish atop the Mur de Huy after technology ruled that Wout Van Aert beat him by just 0.004 of a second at Amstel Gold Race.   

The Ineos Grenadiers leader made the comments via Instagram before editing the post, perhaps still hurting about missing out on victory by such a narrow margin. He returned to the debate about the positioning of the photo finish equipment when Ineos named their team for La Flèche Wallonne with a photo of the 21-year-old British rider. “But where is the finish line?” Pidcock wrote on Twitter.

La Flèche Wallonne will be Pidcock’s final road race of the spring before he enjoys a well-deserved break and he seems keen to sign-off with a victory, with the Mur de Huy seemingly suited to his superb power to strength ratio and aggression.  

He is unlikely to race on the road again with Ineos until the Tour of Austria in late June, using the time away to prepare for the mountain bike event at the Tokyo Olympics.  

Pidcock made his WorldTour debut with Ineos in early February after a winter of competing against Mathieu van der Poel and Van Aert in cyclo-cross. He was not expected to be at their level in the Classics but finished third at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, fifth at Strade Bianche and was in the front group that fought for Milan-San Remo. He cracked at the Tour of Flanders but bounced back to win De Brabantse Pijl last week, beating Van Aert and Matteo Trentin in the sprint and then finished second at the Amstel Gold Race with the photo finish awarding Van Aert victory.   

His cyclo-cross rivals have ended their spring campaigns but Pidcock’s unique talents means he could be a real contender in the Ardennes Classics. He will lead Ineos along with Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Crapaz.

“We knew Tom was good but we certainly did not expect those last two results. Maybe he did, he certainly doesn’t lack self-confidence,” Ineos directeur sportif Servais Knaven told Nieuwsblad.

“After the Amstel, he immediately said: ‘I made a mistake. Just when Van Aert went, I looked back a fraction.’ That won't happen to Tom again. He is eager to learn, which is also why he makes such rapid progress.

“Because he is so good, Tom gets a lot more chances than any other 21-year-old rider. In Amstel, Michal Kwiatkowski and Richard Carapaz rode in front of him in the final. We know he can do more than just the classics, but they are now ideal for discovering what he can do as a road racer.

Knaven highlights Pidcock’s cyclo-cross skills as a factor in his success this spring. They mean his stature and lightweight are not a major handicap, even for the rough cobbles of Paris-Roubaix. 

“Roubaix was not actually on his schedule this year but it would be nice if we could also try for that race in October,” Knaven suggested. 

“I weighed 69 kilos when I won Roubaix and Tom is another ten kilos under that. He could, so to speak, become the lightest winner ever in Roubaix.”

Pidcock weighs a reported 50kg and when combined with his explosive power and climbing skills, makes him a real contender for La Flèche Wallonne.  

“Perhaps that climb suits him best of all,” Knaven suggested daringly. 

“It's a voyage of discovery. But its weight is an advantage there. And the length of the climb, the duration of the effort, is ideal for Tom.”