Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) wins stage 12 of the 2022 Tour de France on Alpe d'Huez.

Tom Pidcock is not done at the Tour: ‘I have big ambitions in this race’

“The idea was to get me in the break and try and win the stage, so box ticked,” said Pidcock after stage 12 victory on Alpe d’Huez.

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Young Brit Tom Pidcock took an emphatic victory on stage 12 ahead of Louis Meintjes and Chris Froome, sampling the Tour’s legendary Alpe d’Huez for the first time in his road racing career.

“No, I can’t explain,” Pidcock said, when asked about his experience of the iconic final climb. “You have to just basically pray that everyone is going to move out of your way and that is the most ridiculous experience ever. To ride up Alpe d’Huez, one of the most, if not the most iconic finishes in cycling at the head of the race. That’s one of the best experiences of my life, I think.”

Closing in on stage glory on cycling’s most legendary climb.

The Ineos Grenadiers youngster wasn’t in the first move of the day, but an attack off the top of the Col du Galibier put Pidcock into his element, and he bridged to the breakaway on the descent with awe-inspiring ease.

“The idea was to get me in the break and try and win the stage, so box ticked I guess,” said Pidcock. “A small break went and Jumbo started controlling on the Galibier because there was a strong headwind – not ideal for breaks to go. Froomey went and I was kind of in between, over the top I thought I might as well give it a go. Then me and Chris Froome were riding across to the break on an Alpe d’Huez stage, that was cool.”

Pidcock looked to be the strongest on the day’s remaining hors-category climbs, but until the final ascent to the finish, it was on the descents that he really shone, slicing through the curves and cutting the steep hairpins as if on rails.

Pidcock slides past Arkéa Samsic’s Matis Louvel with Chris Froome in his sights on the long descent of the Col du Galibier towards Valloire.

It was the kind of handling that you might expect from the reigning Olympic mountain bike and cyclocross world champion, but how did he do it?

“It’s quite a difficult question, well I guess practise and I grew up riding my bike,” said Pidcock, genuinely struggling to explain something that evidently comes as naturally to him as breathing. “I rode to school every day, I always would detour through the woods. And I’d come home with mud on my uniform, completely dirty.

“I’ve become very used to riding a bike and handling it in situations when it was on the limit of control, I guess. I have a very good understanding of my bike too. The tyre, grip, everything like that, I guess it kind of comes a bit naturally. I’m trying to explain, but it’s difficult.”

Pidcock’s stage win was the cherry on top of a great day for the Ineos Grenadiers as Geraint Thomas – his fellow Brit and the last winner up Alpe d’Huez in 2018 – returned to the podium, the only GC contender able to hold on to the duelling Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogačar. Pidcock himself returned to the top 10 thanks to the gap maintained from the breakaway. The multi-talented Brit now sits 7:39 down in eighth.

“G had his glasses back on today so it couldn’t go wrong, could it!” Pidcock joked about the team’s successful day. “I was in a good mood on the bus, I was feeling good. I think once we got in the break and the gap started going out I was thinking it was game on here, but everyone was soft tapping and everyone was looking to me…well, as the strongest guy in the break, I guess, looking to not give me any more pulls than they had to.

“When we came to the bottom [of Alpe d’Huez] we had six minutes, I guess it was a race with five guys, I think.”

The ‘five guys’ who hit the foot of Alpe d’Huez together: Tom Pidcock, Giulio Ciccone, Louis Meintjes, Neilson Powless and Chris Froome.

The 22-year-old came to the Tour de France with no real expectations, but free rein to see how far he could go. After leaving Denmark sitting 10th overall, Pidcock steadily climbed the ranks until the high point of his first week in the uphill sprint in Longwy, where fourth place moved him into fifth overall.

He got a taste of what GC status feels like by looking after the white jersey for Pogačar, but began to fall off the pace in the high mountains.

That is until Thursday when he was able to take advantage of lost time – he dropped out of the top 10 after stage 11 – and go after a memorable stage victory.

So Tom, happy with your debut Tour?

“I think yeah, I’ve won a stage of the Tour this year so I’m pretty satisfied,” he said. “I’m ambitious, I’m here to learn. I compare myself to Pogačar, to Wout. These guys, they’re both older than me, and more experienced. But I am ambitious and I have big ambitions in this race, and bigger ambitions in this race for sure after this experience.”

Remarkably, stage 12 is only Pidcock’s second win of a fledgling road career, but he’s no stranger to raising his arms in celebration.

“I would say it ranks second behind the Olympics and in front of the ’cross world title.”

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