By Jonny Long
Tom Pidcock has described his debut in the elite men's road race at the UCI Road World Championships as "one hell of an experience", having ridden to a respectable 42nd place.
The 21-year-old finished nearly 10 minutes down on winner Julian Alaphilippe, saying his legs were empty once the bunch entered the final lap of the Imola circuit, but he and the young British team that accompanied him are able to take a lot of positives as they build for the future.
"It was one hell of an experience," Pidcock said after the finish. "We didn't get any result but for such a young team, we're here to learn, Luke [Rowe] did an unreal job to keep me at the front as if I was here to win, which is good for the future."
Rowe and Pidcock could be spotted at the front throughout the gruelling 250km race, the older Ineos rider being afforded a good position out of respect as one of the peloton's most experienced and successful road captains, now showing the ropes to a bright young talent who will join him at Ineos next year.
"Luke and I did a turn at the front, we followed our plan," Pidcock said of being left at the front of proceedings as Tadej Pogačar exploded the race into life with his attack. But as he himself had predicted, Pidcock soon fell back as the competition intensified.
"We weren't the favourites, who knows what I would have been like after 260km...I didn't have the legs at all, the legs were just empty," he explained. "It's a good starting point, I was with the top 30 guys with one lap to go, so I can take the positives."
Having raced his first World Championships elite men's road race, Pidcock will now step up to the WorldTour with Ineos in 2021, and rather ominously says it will only be "a matter of time" before he's back in GB colours at the Worlds and challenging for top honours.
"It's just a matter of time, get the legs and endurance to be able to race the full distance, not just ride the last lap," Pidcock said.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.