Olympics-Cycling-Any bike will do for versatile Pidcock
Put Tom Pidcock on a bike, any kind of bike, and he will usually leave everyone in his slipstream, as the 21-year-old showed to devastating effect on his Olympic debut on Monday.
IZU, Japan: Put Tom Pidcock on a bike, any kind of bike, and he will usually leave everyone in his slipstream, as the 21-year-old showed to devastating effect on his Olympic debut on Monday.
This time his mount of choice was a knobbly-tyred mountain bike on which the Briton blew away the 38-rider field at the Izu cross-country circuit in the hills south-west of Tokyo.
His winning margin over Swiss Mathias Flueckiger was 20 seconds but that barely did justice to his domination.
It looked like Pidcock was riding a different race - slicing through the field from the back of the grid to seize control on the fourth lap of a treacherous four-km circuit that saw pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel crash heavily.
Remarkably, Leeds-based Pidcock now earns his money in the professional road peloton with British powerhouse team Ineos Grenadiers, whose experienced Ecuadorian rider Richard Carapaz won the Olympic road race gold medal on Saturday.
Signed last year, Pidcock made an instant impact with a string of superb results in one-day classics, including second in the Amstel Gold, fifth at Strade Bianche and winning the Brabantse Pijl where he beat Belgian superstar Wout van Aert.
He is already being tipped to win multiple Grand Tours and will ride the Vuelta a Espana next month.
Yet he remains loyal to his roots in cyclo-cross in which he became junior world champion in 2017. This year he claimed his first World Cup win in mountain biking - the first by a British rider for 27 years. On Monday he became the youngest Olympic mountain bike champion.
None of that is a surprise to his coach.
"Tom is a cyclist of the new generation," Kurt Bogaerts told The Times last month as Pidcock recovered from a broken collarbone that threatened his Olympic hopes.
"He's an athlete, more an athlete than a bike rider. Tom could be a unique rider who does something that has never been done, possibly even a kind of cyclist we've not seen before."
Pidcock, who has represented Britain on the road, the track and the trails, belongs to a new breed of versatile cyclists such as Van der Poel, who wore the yellow jersey on the Tour de France this year, and Belgian tyro Remco Evenepoel.
Their rivalry on the roads of Europe could turn into something special over the next few years.
But for Pidcock it is all "just riding a bike" and he has no plans yet to specialise in one discipline, although that decision may one day be taken out of his hands.
"My plan this year is to do the (mountain bike) World Cups in America," he told reporters. Next year I want to target the mountain bike world as well as the road races in between, so for sure next year I'll still be doing them all."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Fallon)