‘I woke up high on painkillers, but I knew I could get to the World Championships’: Tom Pidcock ready for racing return after huge crash

The rising road and off-road star is determined, despite his preparation being upended at the Tour de l’Avenir

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tom Pidcock never doubted his spot at the Yorkshire 2019 World Championships, even after waking up in hospital after a major crash at the Tour de l’Avenir.

The rising star returns to racing in the under-23 road race in Yorkshire on Friday (September 27), just over a month after a serious fall that left him hospitalised with nasty injuries to his face.

Pidcock, 20, has only been back on the bike for around two weeks but carries his trademark confidence into the 186km race, which he enters as one of the clear favourites.

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The Brit was fighting for victory on stage six of the Tour de l’Avenir, which is dubbed a mini Tour de France, last month when he fell in the final kilometre.

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“I woke up in hospital. I saw the clock – it was 5pm - and I didn’t really know what was going on,” Pidcock said, speaking from the British Cycling team’s accommodation in Harrogate, a missing front tooth serving as a reminder of the fall.

“I was high on drugs and painkillers, but I could move and I knew I wasn’t in the race anymore.

“I knew I could still get to the World Champs. Whether I’d be in a position to be leading it or to be supporting other riders, I knew I’d be able to ride.”

Pidcock said he has been riding well in training, but his knee still hasn’t fully healed, often getting stiff and continuing to cause him problems.

Despite the injuries, Pidcock is assured: “I want to win.

“The podium would be good. Obviously I'd be disappointed, but if I do my best I can't complain. I've dreamt of coming second by two millimetres and then thought 'would I be pissed off or not?'

“I think as long as I did my best, I can't complain. I've come from a bad situation and whatever I get will be a bonus.”

The crash has of course compromised his preparations, as Pidock hasn’t raced since the fall, but two weeks spent training at altitude have been the next best option.

“I'm going well, but I haven't raced,” he said.

“Normally I would have raced and I'd know where I am, but it's a bit unknown going into this race.”

Pidcock is no stranger to rainbow jerseys in multiple disciplines – in 2017 he won both the junior cyclocross World Championships and the junior time trial title, following up with the U23 CX title this year.

But this race will be special, taking place in his home county of Yorkshire and finishing just 12 miles from his hometown of Otley.

Pidcock said: “It feels a bit weird, to be honest. It feels almost as if it's less of an event because it's here, like a local race.

“A World Champs at home is probably only going to happen once in my lifetime.

“I don't think it would mean as much as the junior [CX World Championships], even though it is a home race because the was first time that I won a major title and that will always be the biggest, even though it is a junior race. It's a home race in front of the home crowd and that's always going to be special, because I'll always be proud to be from Yorkshire.”

There is also the advantage of riding on home roads, as Pidcock will be familiar with the nature of the course, though he hasn’t had time to thoroughly recce the route.

“I haven't really ridden the course much,” he said.

“I would have been doing that in the last couple of weeks, but I didn't have that opportunity. I haven't ridden the course as much as I'd like but I know where I'm going.

“Growing up and training in Yorkshire it makes riders into punchy riders and that's exactly what you need to be to win a race in Yorkshire.”

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Looking at the course, which runs from Doncaster to Harrogate, Pidcock said: “The race got shortened the other day because maybe they didn't realise that it gets dark at 7pm in September, but I think that means that the climb at Greenhow is going to be more significant.

“It's going be windy as well the forecast is suggesting so I think it will be a reduced group at the finish, but I don't know how reduced, then possibly a break going and staying away because the finishing circuit is quite twisty.”

“I like a hard race,” he added.

“I'm good at sprinting from reduced group but I can't beat the pure sprinters. The harder the race the better for me.”

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Alex Ballinger

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.