Tom Pidcock using Grand Tour debut at Vuelta a España 2021 as learning experience

The British rider made sure he let Olympic gold sink in before focussing on his Grand Tour debut

Tom Pidcock riding the 2021 Amstel Gold Race
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tom Pidcock has joined his Ineos Grenadiers team-mates in Burgos ready for his Grand Tour debut at the Vuelta a España 2021.

The Yorkshireman comes into the race off the back of winning a gold medal in the cross-country mountain biking at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

He will be in support of his team leaders of Egan Bernal, Richard Carapaz and Adam Yates over the upcoming three weeks.

>>> Ineos Grenadiers reveal Richard Carapaz's new 'golden' bike

Speaking in the pre-race press conference, Pidcock said he wasn't putting expectations on his three-week race debut and was there to learn. The 2021 season is Pidcock's first pro season at WorldTour level.

"First Grand Tour, I'm looking forward to it," Pidcock said.

"I have no goals. I'm just here for the experience, with no expectations for results or anything. And then to ride with Egan, he's won two Grand Tours already. So it's a lot to be learned from him, I think and I look forward to helping him at this race."

Pidcock said that people should really forget about him riding the race as he is not expecting to bring anything in the first week before adding: "I mean, I guess plans can change pretty quickly. Maybe I start feeling good. Motivated again. 

"At the moment, I look forward to helping Egan, Richie and Adam and working with those guys. I think that's also kind of a nice thing to do your work for the team-mates with no pressure."

Pidcock has been soaking up the moment after winning his gold medal in Japan, explaining that he does not have the form to deliver results in Spain.

"Is it difficult [coming to the race after the Olympics]," Pidcock said. "I mean, I certainly don't have much hunger at the moment. Everyone advised me to celebrate it [gold medal] properly because I move on quite quickly normally, so that's what I've done. 

"I've enjoyed every minute since. I've just kind of kept enough fitness so that I'll be able to race for three weeks, basically. I'm certainly not in top shape, not fully motivated, [but] certainly going to enjoy it."

He added how it has been very special coming back to the UK and being recognised on the street after winning his gold medal. The 21-year-old said the gold, which he took on his first attempt, won't alter his focus as begins his road career in earnest.

"I think it doesn't affect my career path," Pidcock added. "It was my biggest goal of the season and now I've achieved it. So yes, kind of now refocusing towards the Worlds in September hopefully gaining experience and strength also."

The World Championships road race takes place in the Belgian city of Leuven over a hilly course that includes a few cobbled sections too. It could potentially suit Pidcock, though he would have to battle against some of the biggest names around for the rainbow bands.

Pidcock said he was keen to focus on the Classics at the beginning of his career, particularly Paris-Roubaix, but admits at some point he will make the transition to competing for the overall in stage races.

"I certainly do want to transition to ride GC at some point but that takes more time and energy and this kind of high pressure," he said. "But I would say so. I mean, there's not any rush to go that way too soon."

The Vuelta a España 2021 starts in Burgos on Saturday, September 14 with a 7.1km prologue as Ineos Grenadiers come in with some of the big-name favourites for the race.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.