Ineos Grenadiers (formerly Team Sky), the biggest and reportedly richest World Tour road cycling team, has begun its first-ever mountain bike program with Tom Pidcock
as the sole rider.
Pidcock was the Under 23
and eMTB World Champion
last year while riding for the Trinity team on Specialized bikes. He was signed to Ineos for his exceptional road and cyclocross palmares that include several junior World Championships. He has made a strong start to his road career with Ineos including a fifth place at Strade Bianchi and a podium at Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne.
It looks like he won't be turning his back on mountain biking completely though as Ineos have launched this video showing Tom testing on a mountain bike in Girona, Spain. Ineos' frame sponsor is Pinarello but it looks like Tom will be racing on a BMC FourStroke frame with SR Suntour suspension, a similar set up to the Absolute Absalon team.
Tom's season will begin with a warm up race at the Swiss Cup in Leukerbad then he'll be attending the World Cups in Albstadt, Nove Mesto and Leogang before targeting the World Championships and Olympics.
Kurt Bogaerts, Tom’s coach, explained the difficulties Tom might face as a rookie racer. He said: “The gridding is so key in this discipline. At the first World Cup he’ll start really far behind – around place 92 on the grid. If he does well in Albstadt, if he can achieve a top-16 result, that would allow him into the short track qualifying race for the next World Cup round at Novo Meste. That race will help him set his grid position, and if he can get to that point the situation is essentially in his own hands. It’s all about moving up that grid – so the first World Cup of the year will be a key race to start off and get a good result.
“Once Tom gets through that initial phase of racing all his points come into play. Tom has accumulated a lot of points in the under-23 ranks that don’t count for anything at the moment. It’s his first year racing at the elite level in MTB, so all his points going forward will be key looking ahead to the Olympics.”
It makes a lot of sense for Ineos to begin an XC program, after all, the team is named after a 4x4 vehicle. If the team commits seriously they could really shake things up as their road team shows they have resources to burn. We'll be keeping a close eye on Tom’s progress and update you with any info as we get it.