The Ineos Grenadiers rider said that in order to go a step further from the highs of last year, he needs to beat the likes of Tadej Pogačar, Jonas Vingegaard and the other overall favourites to a victory.
The Tour gets underway on 1 July with a hilly stage around the area surrounding Bilbao, which on paper could provide Pidcock with the perfect opportunity to hit the ground running at this year’s edition of the race.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday evening, Pidcock explained that he hoped to try and equally achieve two objectives, riding high in the general classification battle as well as taking a stage win along the way.
“I want to try and achieve both,” Pidcock said. “I want to make a step up in riding GC and I want to aim for stages. Personally I want to go for stages as my main priority, but still focussing on GC. Like I’ve said before, I want to try and win from the lead group or the favourites group and not from the breakaway which then keeps me on GC.”
The Ineos Grenadiers rider enjoyed a sparkling spring campaign which saw him win Strade Bianche in March. He was then forced to skip Milan-San Remo due to concussion sustained in a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, but continued his good run of results after this, finishing on the podium at both the Amstel Gold race and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
Ahead of the fast approaching Grand Départ, Pidcock said that a solid period of training had shown that he was in good form going into the race.
“I think I am in good shape,” he said. “I know from training in the past week that I’m going pretty good. Going into the first stage of a Grand Tour is always a bit of a question mark, but I think my preparation has gone much better than last year as I managed to get through it all without getting Covid.”
Pidcock thinks that some of the GC favourites could lose time over the first couple of Basque Country stages, stages which he thinks are hard to predict anything about.
“I can see it being a very select group, maybe a group with just leaders in it,” he explained. “There could be opportunities for someone to clip off and then win solo… I’ll see what happens and then decide how I’m going to race.
“I think the first two stages are going to be an opportunity where a lot of riders are going to already be looking, including myself, to try and win straight off the bat.
"I think after that it’s about re-evaluating and reassessing where to go. I don’t particularly want to look past these first few days in the Basque Country at the moment.”
Earlier this week, Ineos Grenadiers’ Rod Ellingworth said that the team believed the 23-year-old can go “a step further” at this year’s Tour. When asked to explain what making a step up looked like for him, Pidcock said he was targeting making further improvements in some of the mountainous terrain which will arrive in the form of the Pyrenees in the first week.
“In the mountains is where I think I can make that step,” he said. “That’s where I’d like to see myself improve. I’m a light rider so it should suit my characteristics, but longer efforts are where I can make the biggest step. In that case I can then make a step up in the GC and also my general performance in the Tour.
“That’s what I’d like to see in the next three weeks.”
Pidcock made a name for himself at last year’s Tour with some daredevil descending on the way to taking his maiden Tour victory on Alpe d’Huez. Prior to this year’s edition of the French Grand Tour, the Yorkshireman rode the Tour de Suisse in which Gino Mäder died after a high-speed crash on a descent.
The 23-year-old told the media that the shocking accident had really hit home particularly as it occurred while going downhill at speed, something he has become widely known for being skilled at.
“It hit everyone hard,” Pidcock said. “Personally, I think one of the things that hit me was that it happened descending, which is something that I love.”
“I think that kind of showed me what the consequences can be when it goes wrong.”
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