Without Pidcock, what will INEOS Grenadiers' Flanders plan be? Stannard points out three key trump cards Cycling

Without Pidcock, what will INEOS Grenadiers' Flanders plan be? Stannard points out three key trump cards

Without Pidcock, what will INEOS Grenadiers' Flanders plan be? Stannard points out three key trump cards

In the spring of 2024, after finishing eighth in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Tom Pidcock will no longer participate in the Flemish classics. However, he will be present in long spring races, such as Milan-San Remo (eleventh) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. This means that INEOS Grenadiers will need a different plan for the Flemish cobbled classics. IDLProCycling.com discussed the impact for INEOS with Ian Stannard, team director at the British WorldTour team!

Stannard (36), of course, was a commendable professional cyclist himself. The strong man from Chelmsford managed to win Omloop Het Nieuwsblad back-to-back (in 2014 and 2015), a feat still vivid in many people's memories for the way in which he achieved it. He also secured podium finishes in Paris-Roubaix (third in 2016) and what is now the E3 Saxo Classic (third in 2016), giving the friendly giant a solid base of experience to draw from.

INEOS Grenadiers without Pidcock: Turner, Swift and Sheffield as leaders?

We spoke with the Brit about the team around the time of Nokere Koerse - just one week before the start of the Flemish cycling week (which is actually a week and a half). "We haven't placed the same emphases as last year, when Tom was really in top form at Strade Bianche. He's in good shape now but still has a lot of room for progression towards the Olympic Games. That's where it should all culminate. We hope he can grow and make strides in every race," Tom Pidcock's coach Kurt Bogaerts had already said of his protégé's plans. "It was entirely Tom's own choice to skip the Flemish classics this year," Stannard said when asked.

"He just chose to do the things he wanted to do," he continued. "I also suspect that he thrives better on paved and high-altitude climbs than on cobblestone climbs." That means the focus shifts to other riders. "Our team has many young, strong riders who also have good credentials. They might not be the top favorites, but they are certainly formidable outsiders. If everything goes well, they definitely have a chance. This applies to the more experienced guys in the team too. Especially Ben Turner and Connor Swift, but also Magnus Sheffield are important trump cards," he revealed about the 'new' cobblestone leaders.

Continue reading below the photo!

Without Pidcock, what will INEOS Grenadiers' Flanders plan be? Stannard points out three key trump cards
Sheffield already won the Flèche Wallonne once in 2022

"And then there are also a few up-and-coming talents who will at times participate," he says, referring, for example, to time trial phenomenon Joshua Tarling. "With guys like that, we are mainly in a learning phase when it comes to racing the classics."

Podium finish would be nice, but participating (and learning) is what counts for INEOS Grenadiers

Stannard can't really provide a short evaluation of the season so far. "We are, of course, just getting started. Our team is mainly focused on the tours, both the three Grand Tours and the smaller stage races. But of course, I'm also looking forward to the classics that are coming up. I don't find it nerve-wracking, but I'm actually looking forward to it. It's always nice to be in Belgium," he speaks enthusiastically about what's to come.

What would make the spring of 2024 successful in Stannard's eyes? "I mainly want the guys to make progress. For them to gain experience and learn a lot about the process and what it involves. Of course, a podium finish would be fantastic. But being present in the finale, participating, racing aggressively and continuing to learn is even more important to me."

Stannard himself is not on the race bike too often these days. "Ain't got time for that, mate," he says, certainly able to laugh about it. "I have three kids at home and I travel the world with this team, so that gets tricky. And besides, it's always raining in England."

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