Tom Pidcock becomes giant in the Strade Bianche | Sports

Pidcock, in the ascent to the Colle Pizuto of the Strade Bianche.
Pidcock, in the ascent to the Colle Pizuto of the Strade Bianche.Fabio Ferrari / LaPresse Ferrari Fabio (AP)

Cyclists ride, not a squad, rather small bands of looters, armed by Brancaleone, greed and hunger, the white roads – the Strade Bianche – between the clay hills of Siena, so arid, and the imagination, and the Tuscan landscape, leads to the medieval wars they taught at school, Guelphs against Ghibellines, Montagues against Capulet, whatever, and it is the war of instinct against reason that is waged, that of Tom Pidcock, a short English cyclist from Leeds , in Yorkshire, 23 years old, against 20 different groups that are made and unmade in their pursuit, useless.

During a 50km breakaway, Pidcock has never been more than a minute ahead. The final ascent to Piazza del Campo in Siena, where the Palio, begins with a little more than 20s ahead of time, along the winding steep street of Santa Catalina, where tourists gasp for breath and become selfies. Win with 20s. For more than an hour she has not stopped pedaling, going up and down, very steep hills, smooth asphalt, almost always a 53 plate, agile and powerful pedaling. In Siena, the Englishman is a cycling giant. The squad, at his feet.

It’s a beautiful race, and dusty, and baking soda faces and parched throats, and Ivan Romeo, and his enthusiasm for teenager pucelano, knowing the misery of the bird and abandonment. It is beautiful because it is uncontrollable, because Pidcock and his long white socks, a cyclist who grows bigger when he pursues his mythomaniac dreams, a cyclocross against Van der Poel (and he has won a World Cup) or a mountain bike also against the adored Dutchman, beloved father of the last cycling revolution (and he is an Olympic champion), a stage of the Tour in Alpe d’Huez (and a terrifying descent of the Galibier that still makes the hair stand on end to whoever remembers it) or a unique classic, screensaver landscape of Windows of the Accona desert, sky so blue, green fields, little clouds.

Pidcock has read his classics, he knows by heart the incredible adventures of Tadej Pogacar, an impossible mirror that this 2023 has gone from the race that made a monument a year ago, and made sacred the passage through the eighth stretch of dirt of the 11 that cover 60 of the 180 kilometer race around Siena. It is the five-star section called Monte Santa María that leads to an abandoned town, medieval stones, between fields and cypresses. There, 50 kilometers from Siena, going down, Pogacar attacked, and chaos followed him; there, almost in the same place, Pidcock attacks. The instinct is he, the desire accelerated by the daring; the reason is those who are after him, desire restrained by fear, tempered by calculation: old foxes like Rui Costa, calculators like Benoot, headless attackers like Simmons, squad busters and ambiguous companions like Attila Valter (he can’t help it, he has in the name), calm as Pello Bilbao… Ironically, among so much thought, understanding is impossible, and it does not reach courage.

Pidcock wins, who wants it all, Flandes, the Roubaix, which descends and skids in the curves in a controlled manner, the 30-millimeter wheels of his Pinarello with wide tires inflated to just over four atmospheres, the sternum perpendicular on the stem in the turns, and he drinks his carbohydrate drums when he has to, and follows the rules of technology and knowledge, the only weapon that makes the madness of his dreams possible.

The battle that ignites cycling continues this week. Paris-Nice begins on Sunday –a team time trial on Tuesday, a high finish on Wednesday, a busy weekend on the Côte d’Azur–, in which, once again on French roads, the Tour duel between the defeated, the crazy Pogacar, and the winner, the incredible Vingegaard, who whetted the fans’ appetite so much in February. On Monday, always in Tuscany, the Tirreno-Adriatico begins, with the punchers Van Aert, Van der Poel and Alaphilippe; with the long-winded cyclists Mas, Landa and Roglic. Big cycling doesn’t stop.

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