"He proved last year that he is able to win this race" - Tom Pidcock's coach expects rider to challenge for Strade Bianche victory with Tadej Pogacar

Twelve months ago, there was no one better on the gravel roads of Strade Bianche than INEOS Grenadiers' Tom Pidcock. Although the introduction of Tadej Pogacar to the fold adds to the challengers in 2024, Pidcock's coach, Kurt Bogaerts is confident his rider can once again compete for victory.

"I don't think that changes anything,” Bogaerts tells Cycling Weekly about the presence of Pogacar at the startline on March 2nd. "You just need to try to be the best you can be on the day, you try to have your team the best it can be on the day, and Pogačar there or not, I don't think it changes a lot. In races of this level, when you aim to try to do a good result, you try to be on your best and I don't think that changes anything. You start from yourself as an individual and as your team to be as prepared as good as you can and the same as last year. During the race you deal with your opponents and that's it.”

As mentioned, Pidcock took the win at Strade Bianche in 2023. Despite being within touching distance of the chasers, the Brit refused to relent and eventually held them off to win by 20 seconds. "He proved last year that he is able to win this race and I don't really think that adds more pressure, it's more a confirmation that you're able to win a certain level of race and the race that he was really aiming for,” says Bogaerts. “I think that it's more of a relief that he won this race already and I think it's a positive situation for him, I don't think it adds any pressure."

"It's a race he really likes, it fits with his characteristics and it's always been a race from the start of his pro career that he was looking forward to. The first year he rode it, he was quite good already, and that just gave him motivation and confirmation. So it will be a race that I think I see him doing many times because he just loves the characteristics of this race and it's good fun for him," he continues. "It's a good fit. It's a very hard race with some technical parts. It's iconic and consists of many things he likes as a cyclist.”

Part of an all-star INEOS Grenadiers lineup that includes the likes of Geraint Thomas, Michal Kwiatkowski and Thymen Arensman, Bogaerts believes the presence of such figures could also benefit Pidcock on the infamous white roads.

"He brings a lot of experience and calmness… the general role G plays all the time is a very positive addition to the group. We're very pleased with that and he will play that role on Saturday for sure,” Bogaerts concludes.

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