‘It’s not complicated, I can either follow or I can’t’ - Tom Pidcock on his Tour of Flanders chances

Strade Bianche winner believes that his performance on Sunday won’t be hampered by recent lack of racing time

Tom Pidcock in action at Starde Bianche 2023
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Tom Pidcock is optimistic that his chances at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday won’t necessarily be hampered by a lack of recent race time.

Speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, Pidcock explained that the logic as to how he will fare against the three outright favourites, Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) was straightforward.

“It’s not complicated, I can either follow or I can’t,” Pidcock said. “So I hope it’s the former.”

After his barnstorming Strade Bianche victory, Pidcock rode Tirreno-Adriatico, but was forced to then miss Milan-San Remo after minor concussion, sustained in a crash at Tirreno, kept him out of action for a brief period.

Pidcock then missed the E3 Saxo Classic. In his absence, spectators were treated to an enthralling three-way scrap between Van Aert, Van der Poel and Pogačar, with Van Aert eventually winning a final sprint between the trio.

The Ineos Grenadiers man explained that after such a spectacle, it was to be expected that the Tour of Flanders would then be considered a contest between the three riders.

“Those three have shown that they’re all in top shape, and they made the race in E3,” he said. “I think everyone expects them to make the race on Sunday, and I know I want to be with them as well, in the final.”

Pidcock returned to racing at Dwars door Vlaanderen on Wednesday, and recorded an 11th placed finish behind eventual winner Christophe Laporte of Jumbo-Visma.

The Yorkshireman explained that the result wasn't what he had hoped for, but felt that after a period of solid training he was in a good place going into ‘De Ronde’.  

“I think I just missed the top end really, but I always struggle in my first race after a little period away,” he said. “The lead into Dwars was not what we had planned so it wasn’t ideal, but not bad.”

“I think I did some good training in the last week, and there’s no reason why it will be bad on Sunday,” Pidcock said regarding his current condition. “I think only time will tell.”

Quietly confident 

Tom Pidcock celebrates winning Strade Bianche

(Image credit: Getty Images)

When asked to rate Pidcock’s chances against the trio of favourites, his coach Kurt Bogaerts echoed his optimism.

“I think he can go with the confidence that he normally goes to a big event with when he's prepared,” Bogaerts said. “I think he’s shown in the past that he can beat these guys. On the day, I think there is no one really standing out. When they’re all on their top level, then it’s a tough battle.”

“I think Tom can go with healthy confidence into Sunday’s race to compete with these guys in the final.”

As he assessed other potential challengers for the Flanders title, Pidcock noted that riders from Movistar and EF Education-Easy Post have been “up there” in previous races.

However, he explained that despite their lack of form, riders from Soudal Quick-Step shouldn’t be written off.

“They [Soudal Quick-Step] haven’t been up there like normal, but they will still ride as if they want to take control,” he said. “I think that’s how they ride. Alaphilippe is perhaps not where I would have expected him to be at this time of year, although I saw on Twitter that he rode two hours home from Dwars door Vlaanderen, so he’s trying to keep building on his shape.”

After brief speculation on social media, Pidcock also joked about the potential presence of the reigning road world champion on the cobblestones of Flanders.

“I also saw on Twitter that they were going to bring Remco [Evenepoel] though, so who knows.” 

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