Tom Pidcock raises concerns about TT training after Bernal’s crash

With time trial positions “getting more and more extreme”, Pidcock says that safety in training must be addressed.

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In the aftermath of his teammate’s crash, Tom Pidcock has expressed concern about the possible relationship between crashes and time trial bikes, especially during training.

“I crashed on a time trial bike, Ben [Turner; new teammate] crashed on one in the L’Avenir and Egan’s now crashed,” Pidcock told media prior to this weekend’s Cyclocross World Championships in Arkansas. “It’s getting quite extreme, the position. I think that’s biggest causes of the crashes recently.”

Pidcock, a former junior ITT world champion, was hit side-on by a driver while training in the Pyrenees last June, shattering his collarbone into five pieces. He was operated on and back on the bike within a week, but evidently the impact of the incident has lingered on the rider’s mind.

Another notable and notorious TT training crash befell Chris Froome in 2019, suffered almost exactly two years before Pidcock’s, while conducting a recon of the stage 4 time trial at the Criterium du Dauphiné.

In a race situation with clear roads, watchful eyes in the following car and numerous practise runs of the course, the ‘extreme’ position can be justified, just about. A flat and low back, tucked elbows and fluid motion are all very well, but somewhere along the way, someone also worked out that a bowling ball-smooth helmet is more aero that the human face, which means that a decent result in a time trial often necessitates a good amount of time with the head down.

Filippo Ganna demonstrates an exemplary TT position on his way to a second consecutive world title. Note the head position.

“I think a lot of accidents have happened on time trial bikes and I think that’s something that we need to – you know, the positions are getting more and more extreme, and we spend more and more time trying to hold these positions where you don’t necessarily see where you’re going.

“I think it’s evident now that it’s getting quite dangerous. I don’t think we need to stop progression but we need to think about how it can be, how we can train in a safer way and also try and mitigate these crashes.”

Egan Bernal was training with a few teammates at the time of his crash, and shockwaves were sent throughout the team, and the cycling world, as the gravity of his situation grew clearer. 

“It’s terrible news,” Pidcock said. “I mean it kind of touched a nerve if you like with me because after my crash on a time trial bike it just shows that it can go wrong so quickly. And yeah, it’s quite distressing to see really. I don’t really know much more than anyone else. And, yeah, he’s not in a good way, that’s for sure. But at least he’s stable, I guess.”

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