Tom Pidcock has undergone dental surgery as he enjoys a break from a busy racing schedule that will include a winter of cyclo-cross and then the Cape Epic mountain bike race in March, two mountain bike World Cup races and probably the Under 23 Giro d'Italia in the summer of 2020.
The Yorkshire rider will then decide on his road racing career, according to his Trinity Racing directeur sportif Kurt Bogaerts, and will either ride as a stagiaire with a WorldTour team or quietly prepare for another winter of cyclo-cross.
Pidcock crashed hard on a wet descent at the 2019 Tour de L'Avenir, landing on his face and seriously damaging several teeth. He recovered to take the bronze medal in the under 23 World Championships road race in Yorkshire and has since tackled a full cyclo-cross season. However some inflammation forced him to undergo dental work before heading to Spain for a break and a warm-weather training camp in Girona.
"Three teeth were badly damaged at the time," Bogaerts revealed as he discussed Pidcock's season and long-term plans in an interview with the Dutch Wielerflits website.
"He would have that sorted them out after the cyclo-cross season but two weeks ago, after an X-ray, there were signs of inflammation. So we thought it was better for him to have the work done quickly."
"He's started a five-day course of antibiotics and combined it with a short city break in the Catalan capital. On Thursday he'll travel to Girona for an eight-day camp. He'll then return to Belgium to ride the races in Essen and Zonhoven. He'll celebrate Christmas with his family in Great Britain then comes back to Belgium for (races in) Bredene, Diegem and Baal."
20-year-old Pidcock is the current under-23 cyclo-cross world champion but has opted to race at elite level, taking on elite world champion Mathieu van der Poel and Eli Iserbyt. He has endured mixed fortunes, with crashes and a hard racing programme leaving him disappointed with the results but determined to do better.
"I can’t say I’m not disappointed with it. I knew it would be a challenge stepping up to elite and I knew it wasn’t the easy option for sure. But there isn’t anything more to achieve in U23. I asked for the challenge so I can’t complain. Now time to get back to the graft and try get to the podium again," Pidcock wrote on Instagram after finishing eighth at the European cyclo-cross championships.
Bogaerts suggested that Pidcock is still learning to stay mentally strong when facing setbacks.
"Tom still has to learn to lose. That is his biggest challenge this season. And our greatest goal: to make him mentally stronger. Losing, he has never known that in youth," Bogaerts said.
"At the European Championship, he had a flat tire in the opening laps and he immediately let his head drop. A week later in Tabor we saw an almost identical scenario. Like Mathieu van der Poel, Tom had to start from the fourth row. He moved up well but then he stumbled over the beams and lost places. Again his head went down.
“We talked about it and both in Wachtebeke and in the Duinencross he fought for an hour. He also has to learn how to race on the wheels. It's noticeable that he still makes too many mistakes when riding in a group.
"Once he has a free line, he moves up very quickly. I'm not going to say that he can already threaten Van der Poel, absolutely not but once he has all that stuff better under control, I'm sure he can end up closer."
The Under 23 Giro d'Italia and WorldTour stagiaire spot options for 2020
Pidcock is one of the biggest talents in professional cycling, proving his ability in cyclo-cross, road racing and mountain bike much like van der Poel. He has opted to keep his career options open for now, preferring to ride for the Trinity Racing team built around him than sign a lucrative but perhaps restricting deal with a major WorldTour team.
Bogaerts revealed that Pidcock plans another winter of cyclo-cross in 2020-2021 but could ride as a stagiaire in the second half of 2020 after testing his road racing ability in the Under 23 Giro d'Italia in June.
"After the cyclo-cross season, he will ride the Cape Epic (March 15-22). Then a few spring races on the road at Under 23 level. He also wants to ride two mountain bike world cup races. In between the Tour of Yorkshire and the Baby Giro are still on the agenda."
"There is absolutely no pressure yet (to move up to WorldTour level). The goal is develop further. We will then analyze things after the first half of 2020. Either he becomes a trainee somewhere or quietly continues working towards the 2020-2021 cyclo-cross season. He really wants to be at the top there."