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The desire to step up to WorldTour level must be overwhelming for a young rider, with prodigies consistently leaving their imprint this season.
With Egan Bernal becoming the youngest Tour de France winner in the modern era, Tadej Pogačar earning his place among cycling’s stars at the Vuelta, and Mads Pedersen taking the rainbow jersey at just 23, the face of the sport has changed.
But one young rider resisting the urge to join the top tier is Britain’s Tom Pidcock.
Pidcock, from Leeds, has decided to delay the step up to the WorldTour next season despite having the opportunity, instead he hopes to continue his development in the under-23 ranks.
The 20-year-old, a multiple world champion at junior and U23 level, explained his decision ahead of the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships: “I'm not going to the WorldTour next year because I want to develop. It takes time.
“I could, but I want to enjoy being young.”
“WorldTour riders have been training and doing everything to the max for a long time,” he added.
“I think it's just trickling down to younger riders now. I don't necessarily think it's good to be honest. You need more chance to develop.”
Pidcock is already a proven star across multiple disciplines, having won the junior cyclocross and junior time trial world titles in 2017, followed by the U23 CX World Championships and the national U23 mountain bike jersey this year.
Pidcock was determined in his pursuit of U23 World Championship victory on the road in Yorkshire, but was left disappointed when he took the bronze medal, being bumped up from fourth when the winner was disqualified for drafting behind his team car.
Despite his remarkable success, Pidcock has delayed his progression to the highest level in road cycling.
“The reason riders go to the WorldTour is because its almost like they feel like they’ve made it and they’re secure,” he said.
“But I am secure already so there's no rush.
“There's nothing in the WorldTour that I need, that I want, right now. I want to enjoy racing and winning.
“When you go to WorldTour it gets serious doesn't it? I still enjoy messing around and still winning races.”
Pidcock will definitely be on the move next season however, as his current road team Wiggins-Le Col will be closing its doors, having raced for the last time at the Tour of Britain in September.
He is believed to be joining a trade team, with an announcement expected later this month.
Pidcock says his ambitions is to race the Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain next year, alongside mountain bike races, then making the move to the WorldTour in 2021.
On his ability to switch easily between disciplines, in a similar way to superstar Mathieu van der Poel (Corendon-Circus), Pidcock said: “I don’t see why it hasn’t been done before.
“I think it’s to do with equipment. These days a cross bike is pretty much the same as a road bike. Maybe back in the day it was heavier.
“I don’t see why the line can’t be blurred, because riding a bike is riding a bike, it’s two wheels.
“I've grown up on riding all different kinds of bikes.”
His favourite discipline?
“Probably whichever one I'm winning, but I think generally road.”
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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