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Peter Stuart

'I can't say I'm proud of my performance in Flèche' - Tom Pidcock targets first Monument win at Liège-Bastogne-Liège

Ineos Grenadiers's British rider Tom Pidcock looks on at the start of the Men's race of the 'La Fleche Wallonne', a one day cycling race (Waalse Pijl - Walloon Arrow), 199 km from Charleroi to Huy, on April 17, 2024. (Photo by JASPER JACOBS / Belga / AFP) / Belgium OUT.

Tom Pidcock enters Liège-Bastogne-Liège on Sunday as the top returning finisher of the 2023 race, in the absence of previous winner Remco Evenepoel, and off the back of mixed fortunes in the Ardennes, he will be a serious favourite for La Doyenne.

Pidcock took a stunning overall victory at Amstel Gold - breaking the seemingly adamantine winning streak of Mathieu van der Poel. However, he couldn’t produce the same form at La Flèche Wallonne where he was one of the dozens of riders who suffered from brutally cold conditions.

“I can’t say I’m proud of my performance in Flèche,” Pidcock said in comments shared by Ineos Grenadiers on Saturday morning. “There were definitely better men out there than me that day, but I got so cold it was impossible to think about the bike race anymore.”

The conditions were such that numerous riders were treated for hypothermic symptoms, with Mattias Skjelmose being the most controversial case as videos circulated on social media of the Lidl-Trek rider suffering and shaking with signs of hypothermia.

Turning his attention toward Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the British rider described his form as “Really good” ahead of the race.

“This is a real favourite race of mine. I’m looking forward to the challenge and suffering,” he said. “I know how hard it will be, but I’m ready for that.”

While Pidcock enters as a strong contender, he will have a huge challenge amid a hotly anticipated face-off between Mathieu van der Poel and Tadej Pogačar - both of whom have returned from a training block in Spain.

Indeed, Van der Poel has his eyes fixed on Strade Bianche winner Pogačar as his major rival. “In Liège, the contenders cannot be counted on one hand, with Tadej Pogačar in the lead, of course,” the Dutch rider said.

However, he didn’t discount the young British rider either. “There is also Tom Pidcock. I think of Richard Carapaz, Tiesj Benoot, Mattias Skjelmose, Maxim Van Gils, Dylan Teuns, you name it.... All guys who proved in the past week that they are in good shape and are on paper better climbers than myself,” Van der Poel said.

Pidcock will be hoping to build on his momentum from Amstel Gold and his previous form in Liège. “I think last year I raced super well,” Pidcock said. “Tactically and also physically, I got the most out of what I had in the locker, so I can be proud of that.”

Pidcock enters the race supported by a strong Ineos Grenadiers team including Michal Kwiatkowski and Ethan Hayter, and a first Monument win is a clear ambition.

“I really want to chase my first Monument win,” Pidcock said. “That’s what I try to do every time I start one now.”

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