Less than two months after breaking his collarbone when he was hit by a car in training, Tom Pidcock stood on the top step of the podium at the Tokyo Olympic Games having just won gold in the men’s cross-country mountain bike race.
The 21-year-old was hit by a car while out training at the start of June and was forced to undergo surgery and miss the Tour de Suisse stage race as a result.
His mountain bike ambitions for Tokyo looked in doubt at that point, but he bounced back in comprehensive fashion on Monday to become the youngest ever men’s winner in the event, and seal Great Britain’s first-ever gold in the discipline.
“It's been such a hard time coming here from crashing and breaking my collarbone and that's just unbelievable,” Pidcock said at the finish of the men’s race.
"It's nothing like any other race. The Olympics just transcends any sport. You compete and represent your country and everyone in your country is behind you, no matter what sports they like. It's just national pride, it's unbelievable."
Pidcock measured his efforts perfectly during the race and maintained a position towards the front of the pack as the Swiss pair of Mathias Flueckiger and Nino Schurter hit the front early on.
He narrowly avoided a crash that would eventually lead to Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) abandoning the race, before attacking throughout the second and third laps. The British rider used his superior climbing skills at every opportunity, finally distancing Flueckiger with around four laps to go.
"I'm always better when I take control myself. I take my own lines, my own speed. Once we started I was fine, all the nerves kind of went and I concentrated on the race. I'm happy this shit's (the Olympic Games) only every four years because it's fucking stressful."
Pidcock has also enjoyed an exceptional start to his WorldTour career with Ineos Grenadiers. He finished third in Kurrne-Brussel-Kurrne in late February and then backed that up with fifth in Strade Bianche and 15th in Milan-San Remo.
The 21-year-old neo-pro won De Brabantse Pijl but missed out on victory in Amstel Gold Race after Wout Van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) beat him in a photo finish. He's expected to make his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España later this year.
Pidcock will take short break after his win but has already mentioned that he would like to return to the Olympic Games in Paris in three years time in order to challenge for the road and time trial titles. For now, though he will bask in winning gold and return home to greet his family in the coming days.
"I know that my mum and girlfriend are crying at home,” he said. "It's sad that they can't be here but I see them when I get home."
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