Meet the 20-year-old cyclo-cross rider tipped for huge success following a rookie season in the Elites with the TRINITY Racing Team, for which Shackleton is a clothing sponsor.
A huge amount can change in a short period of time. Just ask Tom Pidcock, the 20-year-old cyclo-cross rider from Leeds – eight years ago, while competing at sparsely-attended local races, he could only dream of the impact he would go on to have.
Now a leading member of the TRINITY Racing Team (sponsored by Shackleton), Tom is being hailed as one of the most exciting prospects on two wheels following his rookie season in the UCI Cyclo-Cross Elites, in which he finished second in the World Championships. He is the first Brit to win a medal at this event since it began in 1950. The hype around this feat suggests that it is the first of many successes.
His achievement did wonders for both his status and this particular format of the sport. Where road cycling is the marathon, cyclo-cross is the Tough Mudder, with riders having to negotiate courses consisting of obstacles, bridges, grass, thick mud and gravel. It is frantic, messy and pulsating, demanding supreme fitness and tact from participating athletes. Tom had to learn to use skill over strength at an early age – at 5’2” he goes against the grain of a cyclist’s typical build.
“I’m small now,” he says, “but at least I’m strong. When I was young I was just small. I was never going to win races based on strength at that age, so I learned how to use my wits to beat other bigger riders. It wasn’t about the straight-line sprints, it was more about the tactics and where I was positioned going into important corners.”
This clearly served him well. His development from a promising junior into a top-level contender was fast and he confidently moved through the ranks to join the Elite class in 2019. Despite winning the Under-23s Championship the previous year, the step up was a rude awakening to the increased level of competition.
“I was suddenly racing against bigger names, taking part in more prominent races and it all got a lot more serious,” he says. “Each season up to that point, cycling had become a bigger part of my life, my diet and lifestyle changed, and I realised that I had to train harder to find an edge.”
The early part of the season was marked with mixed results – Tom was no longer a favourite or familiar face on the steps of the podium. But his ambitions never changed. He has one, well-documented goal: to become the best multi-disciplined cyclist in the world.
“I’m a winner,” he says, “so early races in the Elites, when I knew I wasn’t going to win, were both mentally and physically tough. But I reset after each race, trained harder and believed the next one would be better. The hours went up, the gym work increased, my diet improved further, and I started seeing the results. That satisfaction is like nothing else on earth.”
With the success of the cyclo-cross still lingering, Tom is moving on to his next challenge, leading the TRINITY Racing Team on the road through the 2020 season. Given the remarkable success he has enjoyed in such a short professional career, there is every reason to believe 2020 will bring much of the same.
Shackleton is proud to be a clothing sponsor for the TRINITY Racing Team, made up of athletes and pioneers pushing the limits of their physical and mental capabilities. Riders and support crew are equipped with a range of performance outerwear apparel, including the Endurance Parka, Lightweight Wild Jacket and Fortuna Gilet.