For all his talent, his promise, and his success so far, Tom Pidcock is the first to admit that he has not won as much on the road as he might have, given his skillset.
However, heading into his third Classics season with Ineos Grenadiers, as a professional, the rider from Leeds is ready to right that wrong, and show that he is one of the best riders in the world on the road, as he is on his mountain bike, and in cyclo-cross.
Speaking to the media at a press conference on Friday, ahead of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday, Pidcock said: "Last year was not exactly my best period, so this year won't be difficult to beat that I think."
Ineos Grenadiers had possibly their best ever Classics season in 2022, with or without Pidcock, as the team won Paris-Roubaix, the Amstel Gold Race, and Brabantse Pijl, and came second in the Tour of Flanders and third at Dwars door Vlaanderen.
However, Pidcock might have clinched that third at Dwars and fifth at Brabantse Pijl, but was off his best form in other key Classics, or missed them - he skipped Strade Bianche with a stomach bug.
Therefore, he has unfinished business with the Classics, starting with Omloop on Saturday and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne on Sunday.
"Last year as a team was our best year in the Classics to date," he said. "We come in with confidence this year, and to build on that. Of course, last year was not exactly my best period, so this year won't be difficult to beat that I think.
"The Classics, I couldn't really tell you which one is my favourite, so it's a case of being in great shape, and hopefully I'll have the shape to win one. But it's difficult to really point out one to win."
Pidcock won a stage at the Volta ao Algarve last week to take the third victory of his nascent career, but one feels there's much more to come from the 23-year-old. Despite his relative lack of wins, he will still be one of the favourites in every race he starts.
"I've always been watched, that was a factor last year in the team's success..." Pidcock explained. "We have a strong team, and if people are looking at me that gives opportunities to other people in the team. Last year, me not being 100% created some success.
"I haven't won massively on the road, yet, but I think I have a name where people watch me. That might be unfortunate, but that's just how it is."
Alongside Pidcock will be Ben Turner and Magnus Sheffield, two of Ineos' breakout young stars from last year, along with the experienced Luke Rowe and Michał Kwiatkowski. Joining the Classics squad this year is Connor Swift, who will add some power to the team.
"Omloop isn't the most perfectly suited race to me," Pidcock said ahead of tomorrow's race. "But I think it's going to be windy tomorrow, there's a lot of strength from different teams, so they're going to be racing earlier than normal. I think it will be a hard enough race.
"Yesterday in the recon I was going pretty well. My least favourite climb, the Bosberg, I went up it the fastest I've ever gone up it. That's not a bad thing. Last week at Algarve I was climbing well, and it's nice to get a win already. I was watching in envy the cyclo-cross World Championships, but it's paying a bit off already, that I've had longer to prepare for the road season."
Pidcock skipped the defence of his cyclo-cross World Championship crown in order to prepare for these races. Now is the time to see if that move was worth it.
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