Tom Pidcock says he wants the cyclocross sport to have “three kings” rather than two as he prepares to face Mathieu van der Poel and Wout Van Aert at the World Championships in Ostend on Sunday.
The Dutchman van der Poel and the Belgian Van Aert have won the last six elite world titles in between and will be heavy favorites once again in Belgium this weekend.
But Britain’s 21-year-old rising star Pidcock – who will take part in his final race for Trinity before officially becoming a World Tour rider with Team Ineos as of Monday – beat van der Poel at an event in December and feels that the gap to the leading duo is closing.
“I do not think I’m at their level, not yet,” Pidcock said. “I’m really close. But that is my ambition. I want to join their league. At the moment they are the two guys from ‘cross’. When I feel good, people say ‘Now there are three kings of’ crosses’. But then I do a race where I’m not as good, and then there are only two. I want to try to confirm my place with those guys at the top. ”
Pidcock was a surprising second at the world championships last year but so fast his progress has gone through the ranks – he led the GB team at the world championships last autumn – he will have no chance to surprise anyone this year.
Like Evie Richards, who runs the elite women’s race on Saturday after finishing sixth in Switzerland last year, Pidcock says the sand track in Ostend is not perfect for him. But he says he plans to compete with his own race and see where it leaves him.
“It’s probably the worst course in the world [for me], but I think at the end of the day the strongest guys will be in the front, so I will get to the finish line, unless I make many mistakes, which I hope I will not do, he says.
“For me, if I take the lead, I ride much faster, ie if I run my own race, it has always been the best way for me to compete.”
Pidcock added that he was looking forward to joining Ineos full time, even though he was not involved in his competition program for the rest of the year. A first major tour of the Vuelta a Espana has been mentioned and the road worlds again, while he openly targets the Strade-Bianche this spring.
Pidcock also confirmed that he wants to compete in mountain biking for Team GB at the Olympics in Tokyo this summer.
The qualification depends on what other nations do, but Britain is close to securing a seat and Pidcock hopes voters will take a positive view of him if they do.
“The [the selectors] as a story – I – come to mountain biking, so it’s probably … it’s a pretty good chance, ”he said. “But I try to stay focused on the weekend.
“It’s the end of the journey with Trinity. I want to make myself and the team proud. ”
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