Tom Pidcock ate 10 garlic cloves a day while recovering from Covid-19

Confirmed: Pidcock is not a vampire.

by Jonny Long

photography by Kristof Ramon

In the build-up to his debut Tour de France Tom Pidcock was eating 10 cloves of garlic a day.

No, this was not an attempted antagonising of the l’hexagone and its people, pandering to an insulting French stereotype. Instead it was to aid his recovery from COVID-19, which he’d contracted at the warm-up Tour de Suisse.

First, a very quick garlic lesson. It is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world, has antibiotic properties and boosts the immune system. Its medicinal benefits derive from an active compound called allicin. The production of allicin is stimulated by the crushing or chopping of cloves but cooking garlic is thought to reduce production of the compound.

The recommended “dosage” of garlic is one to two cloves a day, with excessive consumption potentially causing bad breath, acid reflux, digestive issues, and an increased risk of bleeding. So if WADA began testing for garlic, Pidcock would have been five times over the limit. We had to ask the man himself what it was all about.

Tom, we heard you ate 10 cloves of garlic a day while recovering from Covid, is that something you read in a Facebook conspiracy group or advice from a team doctor?

“Garlic is…I don’t know what it is actually…it’s good for your immune system isn’t it? So I was smashing the garlic,” he told CyclingTips.

Raw garlic?

“Yep, raw garlic.”

All ten cloves at once or?

“No, no, at mealtimes I’d have some.”

Interesting. Um…that’s all I have.

Faced with such candidness from the 22-year-old, and the abject panic of what he’d been doing, further questions instantly evaporated. Walking away, imagining the all-encompassing horror of wilfully chowing down on entire garlic bulbs while positive for COVID-19, everything else I wish I’d asked came flooding back.

Questions such as did he enjoy it? It sounds like he did at least a little bit. He said he had ‘some’ at mealtimes, does this mean he was chasing his cheerios in the morning with a handful of cloves? For how many days did he eat 10 cloves of garlic?

Pidcock did suffer during his bout of Covid, the first time he’d caught it since the start of the pandemic. He was unwell, a cold and a cough leaving him weak, but he recovered quickly enough to take the start line of the Tour, a race where he doesn’t just plan on riding around learning the lay of the land in his debut Grand Boucle.

“The stress is a bit more, the speed not so much yet,” Pidcock said of how the Tour had compared to other races so far. “We haven’t raced properly, maybe today I think we may race a bit more. Think more people we want to get ahead of the race.

“Personally I’m not exactly satisfied with gaining experience, it’s a bit boring and dull. I’m not that interested [in that], I want to do something and make my impact on the race, that’s what I want to do.

“I can get experience doing that. But this year riding around, gaining experience, that’s boring.”

When will that be?

“I don’t know, we’ll see. Maybe today. I’ve never ridden a pro Roubaix so who knows. But I’d like to be up there in the mix and enjoy being at the front end of the race today. Maybe I don’t have the raw power at the end on a day like today but yeah enjoying the cobbles will be nice.”

If we see Pidcock being given a wide berth, or even going solo off the front, it could be because of his burgeoning talent, or maybe because he absolutely reeks of garlic. I guess at least we know now with 100% certainty that Pidcock isn’t a vampire.

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