The Tour de France giveth and the Tour de France taketh away. While Ineos Grenadiers co-leader Carlos Rodríguez was busy steaming into Morzine with his hands in the air and a smile on his face Tom Pidcock, who had started the day just four places further back on GC, was labouring and desperately trying to minimise his losses.
The Yorkshireman had been distanced by the furious pace of the GC group on the slopes of the Col de la Ramaz, the penultimate mountain of the day, and fought along the valley, up the Col de Joux Plane and down the other side.
He eventually finished 8-40 behind his team-mate and stage winner Rodríguez, dropping to 11th on GC in the process.
“It was very hard day,” he said. “Is a shame really I was full of confidence this morning I envisioned doing this epic attack over the top of the Col de Joux Plane and we started full gas and I just didn’t really have it in me.”
Pidcock had good reason to feel that confidence in the morning. The day before he was the best placed rider of the gaggle of GC battlers behind the top two and the Leeds native has been setting some of his best climbing performances ever in this Tour de France.
Notably the viciously steep slopes of the Puy de Dôme had shown him to be among the be.
But the tests where Pidcock has impressed have been of a different character to the 151km test across five alpine ascents that stage 14 presented.
Pidcock declined to lean on that as an excuse when it was offered to him. “I need to evaluate a little bit, but I think I just didn’t have enough energy,” he said. “Yesterday was a late stage, a late dinner and I just couldn’t really eat enough it wasn’t complicated.”
Describing the part of his race after he was dropped he said: “I though maybe I could save a bit over Ramaz and maybe come back but I was just cooked. Then I took my radio out so as I came back to the bus everyone was saying congratulations and I was thinking ‘what is everyone saying congratulations for?’ before I found out thaat Carlos won. That made it [the day] a bit better,” he said, a smile breaking across his face.
Given Pidcock’s propensity for riding aggressively and having fallen out of the top 10 there is a case for unleashing the Yorkshireman to chase stage wins.
However, Ineos Grenadiers deputy team principal Rod Ellingworth seemed to think that would be unwise. “The original plan was to not come out of the GC fight,” he said. “He has got to put himself in the place where he’s getting stretched like he was today.”
Ellingworth emphasised that there really weren’t any downsides to doing so. “What I’ve always said is that these two guys [Pidcock and Rodríguez] can’t fail because every day they have, they learn. Tom has lost time but he can’t fail, it’s just about learning for the future.”
While the Tour de France does taketh away, perhaps for Pidcock, on this occasion, even that is giving him something.