Tom Pidcock
Pidcock is set to ride in this year’s Giro d’Italia
Dates: 29-30 January Venue: Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
Coverage: Saturday 29 January 16:50-18:00 GMT – Junior women’s race, 2020-2140 GMT – Women’s elite race. Sunday 30 January 20:20-22:00 GMT – Men’s elite race. Watch via the Red Button, BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport website

Britain’s Tom Pidcock says cyclo-cross is the hardest discipline in cycling, as he prepares for his world title bid.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider, who won Olympic mountain bike gold in Tokyo last year, is a favourite for Sunday’s UCI Cyclo-cross World Championship.

“Coming after Christmas, without a doubt it’s ‘cross – the winter weather, the physical aspect, how intense it is,” said the 22-year-old.

The championships are live on the BBC Red Button, iPlayer and Sport website.

Cyclo-cross involves races – usually during winter in Belgium and Holland – across a mix of grassland and sand, which includes steep gradients and often sees riders forced to jump off and run with their bikes across muddy sections of the course.

The 2022 championships are in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where competitors will fight for the honour of claiming governing body the UCI’s coveted rainbow jersey.

Pidcock added: “It is the concentration… for a whole day, you go to the race, you travel there, you do a pre-ride, a good warm-up, you’re fully focused.

“It’s mentally the hardest, and physically… at Christmas when you do four races in five days, that is harder than any five-day stage race for sure.”

Leeds-born Pidcock is one of the most exciting British talents in cycling, following his Olympic victory last year and his presence on road cycling’s World Tour for Ineos.

In 2021 he won Belgian classic race De Brabantse Pijl and came second at the Amstel Gold race in the Netherlands.

Despite being a favourite because of the absence of fellow World Tour riders and former cyclo-cross world champions Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel, Pidcock is not feeling the pressure.

“The Olympics… I’ve never felt any pressure like that – that was on another level. I think now into these championships, it’s easier to cope.

“I don’t think anything’s ever going to be like Tokyo was, and I showed to myself I can deal with whatever pressure.”

Also in action in the elite race are Pidcock’s Ineos team-mate Ben Turner and elite national champion Thomas Mein.

Britain’s Anna Kay competes in the elite women’s race on Saturday. In the junior category, Zoe Backstedt will try to add to her road race championship victory from last year as she races alongside national champion Ella Maclean-Howell.

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