Should Tom Pidcock race the Cyclo-cross World Championships? This coach thinks so

TrainSharp cycling coach Paul Delani says the Brit can "definitely" recover in time for the road season

Tom Pidcock running through sand at Dublin World Cup 2022
(Image credit: Getty)

For weeks, cyclo-cross world champion Tom Pidcock has been to-ing and fro-ing about whether he’ll defend his title in February.  

The latest update he gave, in an interview after his third place in Dublin on Sunday, was as non-committal as all the previous ones. Asked if he’ll race the Cyclo-cross World Championships, the 23-year-old replied: “Probably not, but not definitely. I don’t know.” 

For Pidcock, the road season now takes precedence, as he targets a strong showing in the early-season Classics. Paul Delani, a cycling coach at trainSharp, sees no reason why he can’t do both. 

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Delani, who currently coaches British cyclo-cross rider Anna Kay, said: “It’s a matter of whether [Pidcock] decides to peak into the Worlds. I think the Worlds might be actually just be part of the journey for Tom.

“He can race cross races on road training,” he continued. "It can add quite well to a race season. 

“Tom can go out and do back-to-back rides, five hours day-in day-out and still ride a cross race.”

Asked about the effects of racing cyclo-cross on a predominantly road training schedule, Delani said: “[Pidcock]’s a bit lacking in skills, and obviously just lacking in a few of those explosive efforts. 

“Across races this year, he’s had quite a few mistakes. He’s been quite unlucky on a few occasions as well. The mistakes are probably just a case of lacking a bit more [training] time off road.”

Next year, the road season’s Opening Weekend comes exactly three weeks after the Cyclo-cross World Championships, with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad kicking off the European WorldTour calendar on 25 February. 

Is three weeks enough time to regain full fitness? "Yes, definitely," Delani said. “To be at the level Tom’s at, your recovery powers are amazing. There’s something special about you, you’re a very robust human being.”

Pidcock, too, might be even fresher now, having opted for an extended break over competing at the Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia.

Tom Pidcock new bike

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Last season, three-time cyclo-cross world champion Wout van Aert decided not to travel to Fayetteville, USA for the Cyclo-cross World Championships, instead chosing to focus on his road season. The Belgian ended up winning Omloop Het Nieuwsblad by 22 seconds. Pidcock came 18th. 

Travel, Delani highlights, is likely to have played more of a factor that time round. “It’s these little things that add up and actually take away training days from your road season," he said. 

“I think for [Van Aert], it was probably a case of ‘I could lose a week, 10 days here maybe’. And that may be why he chose to stay away.”

This year, however, the World Championships will take place in the Dutch village of Hoogerheide, just an hour’s drive from Omloop’s start line in Ghent. 

Pidcock now has less than two months to make up his mind as to whether he'll race or not. “As probably part of his persona, I'm sure he wants to still challenge for the jersey,” said Delani. 

The coach then added that he hopes the Brit won’t give up his rainbow bands “without a fight”.

The elite races at the Cyclo-cross World Championships will take place on 4 February 2023. The European races on the WorldTour calendar begin with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad three weeks later. 

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Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom joined Cycling Weekly as a news and features writer in the summer of 2022, having previously contributed as a freelancer. He is the host of The TT Podcast, which covers both the men's and women's pelotons and has featured a number of prominent British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.