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Tom Pidcock poised for crunch weekend in Volta ao Algarve

Tom Pidcock heads into the Volta ao Algarve’s crunch weekend feeling upbeat about his chances of repeating his 2023 victory on the Alto do Malhao on Sunday but with the additional target of improving his time trial performance 24 hours earlier.

Speaking at the stage 3 start on Friday, Pidcock said that his morale had been boosted by his sixth place on the Alto do Foia but pointed out that the shorter, sharper ascent of Malhao is more suited to his explosive style of climbing. 

As for Saturday’s race against the clock, where he lost the Algarve lead last February to teammate Dani Martínez, the Briton said the rolling 22-kilometre time trial round Albufeira constituted an important test of his time trialling.

19th in 2023, at 1:27 down against stage winner Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ), Pidcock said that he had done a lot of time trialling training work over the winter, and as he put it, “I want to improve on last year.”

“I think there were quite a lot of positives to take from yesterday [Thursday]. I didn’t have a kick at the end, but I was pretty comfortable,” Pidcock, now lying sixth overall, told Cycling News.

“I did some really good numbers on the longer periods [of climbing], and it was a positive start. I’m always someone who takes a while to get in race rhythm, I’ve always been like that, so pretty happy with where I was yesterday [Thursday].”

After safely completing Friday’s sprint stage in 40th place, Pidcock’s first goal is to test himself on Saturday, where specialists of the calibre of Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-QuickStep), Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) and, once again, Küng, will likely provide the key points of reference.

“Of course, in the time trial, I want to put in a good effort, and I want to improve on last year. I’ve been putting some time in on that, it’s important because if I want to achieve anything in  a GC, then I need to improve on my time trials.

“It’s something I’ve done well in the past, but only after putting the work in. You don’t get anything for free for that, so that’s been a bit of a focus this winter.

“Then, on the last stage [to Malhao], I want to try and do the same thing [as last year] as well.”

After the race against the clock, Pidcock will be in more of his element in Sunday’s stage finish on the Malhao, where last year he fended off João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) to win by one second. As he pointed out on Thursday, the ascent itself is more suited to his characteristics than the much longer Alto do Foia – and he also has the memories of last year to motivate him as well.

“I prefer those climbs, the shorter punchier ascents, for sure they suit me more, a seven-minute effort, or six and a bit, it’s more of my thing,” he concluded.

After Albufeira and Malhao, Pidcock’s versatility as a racer will be in evidence next weekend when he tackles the cobbles of Omloop Het Nieuwsblad to try and improve on his fifth place of 2023, prior to heading to Strade Bianche to defend his victory of last March. But when it comes to the Ardennes and the Tour de France this season, this year’s takeaways from the Volta ao Algarve won’t be forgotten, either.

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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