Double interview with Tom Pidcock and Jake Stewart
Updated: May 1
Who are the fastest British U23 riders of the moment? It looks like that’s Tom Pidcock and Jake Stewart. At the respected stage race Triptyque des Monts et Chateaux last weekend, Pidcock won the second bunch sprint and came second in the last stage. Stewart finished three times in the top three. Both Tom and Jake are the same age, 19. They go back a long while, and The Young Peloton had the chance to do a double interview with them.
Did this Triptyque suit you well, Jake? It consisted of a hilly parcours and a time trial.
Jake: “Yeah, it was well suited for me. I prefer a grippy parcours like this, with some slightly harder climbs to get rid of the big sprinters. I know I still have a quick finish at the end.”
There were only three stages and a time trial. In all those three stages, you finished top three in the sprint. Are you happy with that result, or disappointed that you didn’t take a stage?
Jake: “I’m happy with it. We came here with the team [Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ – Ed.] and didn’t know how well I was sprinting. I ended up sprinting well here, but it’s bittersweet, one of them should have been a win. I was quick enough to do it, but it was a matter of timing.”
I remember you got fifth place in the World Championships U19 in Bergen 2017. That was also in a sprint of a peloton where not many sprinters had survived. Is that your kind of course?
Jake: “Bergen was perfect for me, a hard parcours where it came down to a sprint. A bit like here.”
Tom: “And I beat you in the sprint.”
Jake: “Yeah, today Tom beat me in the sprint.” (laughs)
Was it the first time that you sprinted against each other? You're the same age?
Tom: “We’re the same age, well he’s a couple months younger than me. It's the first time we probably sprinted each other, yeah.”
Jake: “Besides sprint training.”
Tom: “Yeah, beside sprints on Wednesday and he beat me every time, so...”
You used to be on the same team?
Tom: “We used to race on the same team, as juniors. We were also on the GB Academy together.”
Jake: “He helped me get that fifth at Bergen.”
Tom: “Oh yeah, in the worlds.”
Tom, some journalists were surprised that you took a sprint stage win here in the Tryptique. You’re good on the hills, cobblestones, time trial...
Tom: “I think sprinting is my weakest point, yeah.”
Have you been training on your sprint?
Tom: “No, but doing cross in winter is good training. [Tom is world champion cyclocross U23] In a cross race, you’ve got to be able to repeatedly go very fast.”
This afternoon, the Tour of Flanders was on. Two cyclocross colleagues were among the favourites: Wout Van Aert and Mathieu Van der Poel. Do they inspire you? It’s Mathieu’s first time in the classics and he already aimed for the win.
Tom: “Definitely. It shows what I’ve always thought, that you don’t have to specify in any specific art of cycling. It’s all around riding the bike, innit? Good bike riders ride their bikes fast.”
Tom, you’re really not a heavy cyclist. Does that mean you can climb as well?
Tom: “Yeah, I think I need to do some proper climb races. Last year I was fat, that’s why I kept falling off my mountain bike.”
What does your race calendar look like from now on? And for you, Jack?
Tom: “Flanders next week and then Liège.”
Jake: “For me it’s the same.”
Liège-Bastogne-Liège is of course quite tough for sprinters, you think you might survive there, Jake?
Jake: “I don’t know, maybe it’s a little bit too hard for me. But I’ve been climbing pretty well, especially on shorter climbs. We'll see how it goes.”
How did you get to sign for Equipe continentale Groupama-FDJ? It’s a French team, aren’t there enough British options?
Jake: “I was riding with the GB Academy last year, but this year I wanted to go forward and I didn’t want to get caught in the British bubble. There’s a lot of riders who get caught in the British continental teams and don’t get out of them. In my opinion, riding in the U23 team of a World Tour team is better."
Back to today’s stage. You came second today, Tom. What’s your story of the race?
Tom: “In the first part of the stage, when it split into pieces, I hit a hole and my lever went down, which left my front brake on, so I had to change bikes. Then I punctured, my teammate Corentin [Navarro, that's why he did not finish – Ed.] gave me a wheel and I had to chase for 35K. So it’s not a bad day considering I got second.”
Last week, I talked to Sam Watson, who's on the same team as your brother. Joe [or Joseph - Ed.] Pidcock rides for Team Fensham Howes – MAS design. He is in his first year as a junior, what kind of rider is he?
Tom: “He’s got my talent, but he hasn’t got my head. So he doesn't look like me. I’d say he’s a sprinter. He beat Rob Scott [Teammate of Tom at Wiggins Le Col – Ed.] and Scott Thwaites, who rode for Team Dimension Data last year, in a sprint on a training ride. But I think it’s tough for him to be my little brother. He’s got expectations that are hard to live up to.”
Cycling is clearly in your DNA, as your father Giles Pidcock was also a cyclist.
Tom: “Yeah, he rode the World Street Games. He was never the best in the world, but he was a pretty good sprinter."
Jake, are you going to the Tour de l’Avenir this year? You had some good results there in 2018.
Jake: “I’m not sure yet, but yeah, I got a seventh place there last year, and a couple just outside top ten. I think I could have come away with a stage win, but we were riding for Matthew Gibson who got the stage win in the end.”
I think it’s a stage race that’s suited for you, it’s never hundred percent flat.
Jake: “For sure, the first stages are definitely suited for me.”
What are your other objectives this year?
Jake: “I’d like to see how it goes at the Tour of Flanders U23 and Roubaix. And at the end of the year, the World Championships. It’s a course that suits me and it's in my home country." [Yorkshire in Great Britain – Ed.]
(Jake leaves) Tom, last week I went to Ghent-Wevelgem U19 where I saw an impressive British team, how does it come that they're doing so well? They came second, third and fourth.
Tom: “It doesn’t look very good on paper, does it?” (laughs) “But the way they did it was impressive. I think it's because success breeds success. We’ve been having success on the road with the juniors and now in the U23’s. So yeah, they’re just gonna keep getting better and stronger.”
You ride for Bradley's Team Wiggins Le Col. Do you sometimes get to talk to him?
“Sometimes. He’s the face of the team, of course. He wanted a break from cycling, but now he’s getting more and more involved.”
What does your race calendar look like for the next months?
Tom: “I’m racing until Roubaix. Then I’ll have a little break and afterwards I’ll build up to the World Championships.”
Well, don’t eat too much so you stay under last year’s weight. Then I'm sure you'll keep riding well.
Tom: “I’m not eating much now, no.” (laughs)