Tom Pidcock took his punishment on the chin after the opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve, arguing that his ‘push’ was an instinctive move but accepting it wasn’t the right thing to do.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider placed fifth as a surprise presence in the bunch sprint in Lagos but he was later relegated to the back of the peloton for raising his arm and pushing another rider in the final 200 metres.
Pidcock was moving through the field in a chaotic sprint and looking to thread through a tightening gap when he put out his left hand to nudge aside Luís Mendonça, who did not crash but was bumped out towards the barriers.
Pidcock was fined and lost his stage placing, but he was not docked any time on the general classification, leaving him well in the hunt for the overall title.
“At the end of the day it makes no difference because I’m on the same time, but I understand it,” Pidcock told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 2 of the Volta ao Algarve.
“In that situation, it was just instinct. That guy was just closing on me and I was coming with speed and didn’t want to brake.
“I guess it’s the first race of the year and I’ve been used to training and you do stuff like that when you’re out with your mates training. I think I need to use my elbows more, but when you’re less than 60 kilos it’s quite hard to use that weight.”
Nevertheless, Pidcock getting involved in a full-on bunch sprint would suggest he has hit the ground running on his 2023 road racing debut.
The British star chose to forgo the defence of his cyclo-cross world title earlier this month in order to better prepare for the Classics and, after confessing to FOMO while watching Worlds, seems keen not to waste any time at all.
“It’s important that I take every day as an opportunity to race,” Pidcock said.
“It was good yesterday. A bit crazy with all those big boys, a bit of chaos, but it’s all good. Every day is an opportunity to take a bit of experience, and use it almost like training, really.
“The idea was to get a better build-up to the road season and it feels like the first time in a long time that I’m at the first race and I’m kind of ready already.”
A true marker of Pidcock’s form will come later on Thursday on the Alto de Foia, one of two uphill finishes that will shape the Volta ao Algarve ahead of the decisive final-day time trial.
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