British Olympic legend Bradley Wiggins heralded the performance of Tom Pidcock as the young 21-year-old rode to gold in the men’s mountain bike cross-country race at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Five-time Olympic champion Wiggins knows what it takes to get to the top, and if anyone can match his multi-discipline achievements on the bike then it could be Pidcock, who has already achieved success in road, cyclo-cross and mountain biking disciplines already in his young career.
And speaking live from the Izu Mountain Bike course, Wiggins summarised Pidcock’s remarkable achievement.
Swiss sweep the mountain bike podium in treacherous conditions
“That’s the men’s mountain bike race done and Britain has a new Olympic Champion – 21-year-old Tom Pidcock from Leeds,” Wiggins said.
It never really looked in doubt from start to finish.
“The other big favourite Mathieu van der Poel crashed out heavily and it was all left to Tom Pidcock to come home solo with the British flag above is head, and he is the new Olympic champion.
“What an achievement at 21 years of age.”
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And Pidcock spoke to Wiggins in the mix zone, with the enormity of his achievement still clearly sinking in.
Wiggins: “You’re Olympic champion, how does it sound?”
Pidcock: “It doesn’t feel real really. It’s pretty crazy that I already became an Olympian and I was just trying to tell myself that at the start of the race, it’s special just to be here.”
Pidcock was involved in a collision at the start of June during training, fracturing his collar bone in five places.
And the action in Tokyo was his first competitive race back since recovering from that injury.
Wiggins: “How it’s been since coming back from that injury, just short of two months ago?”
Pidcock: “Really hard. I’ve trained really hard and I knew I was in great shape, but there’s always doubt when I haven’t performed in a race. But once the race started I knew I was in a good place – with the heat obviously I didn’t feel good, but everybody told me I wasn’t going to feel good.”
'It never looked in doubt' - Wiggins hails Pidcock after mountain bike gold
Shortly after standing atop the Olympic podium with the gold medal around is neck, Pidcock spoke again to Wiggins.
Wiggins: "Has it sunk in a bit more now?"
Pidcock: "Errrr, no. This medal’s bloody heavy! It’s a good quality one."
Wiggins: "It’s probably justified now sacrificing most of your road season for this."
Pidcock: "Yeah, for sure. I worked bloody hard coming back from injury getting ready for this and everything seemed to fall into place today. It’s a big relief it’s kind of over because it is stressful, but you’ll never feel anything like winning an Olympic title I think."
Wiggins: "Was you aware that Van der Poel had crashed when you were out there?"
Pidcock: "Yeah, I was right in behind him."
Wiggins: "And after that, what point did you think you had it in the bag? It looked like a wearing down process with the two Swiss guys."
Pidcock: "In the heat, you saw in the road race, nobody really explodes forward… a lot of people explode backwards! So yeah it was kind of wearing down. A lot of people were making mistakes and I was like ‘right I just need to get to the front’.
"I pressed on and got a bit of a gap and Fluckiger was holding me for a few laps and putting me under a bit of pressure. But I backed off a little bit, I didn’t want to overcook myself, anything can happen in the last couple of laps.
"The gap kind of grew a little bit even though I was backing off, so that’s when I kind of knew I had it in the bag if I could keep it together."
Wiggins: "Brailsford said to me at the Tour that you’re his next project for the Tour de France. Can you see yourself coming back and defending this title or will that be it now for Mountain Bike?"
Pidcock: "Next year I want to go to the World’s, the World Mountain Bike that is. And next Olympics I want to do road and mountain bike… and time trial too if they want!"
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Van der Poel avoids broken bones after crashing heavily in Olympics mountain bike cross-country