Why Tom Pidcock deleted his Coll de Rates KOM

Most of the story of a king's abdication of the crown.

We’ve all done it. You do a ride, it uploads to Strava, and without realising you’ve broken the most hotly contested Strava segment on mainland Spain. It’s an easy mistake.

Suddenly, the kudos are flowing in, but you’ve got a dirty little secret. The effort might not be entirely off your own steam. There may have been some assistance beyond the acceptable tailwind. Say a nicely timed tractor, or perhaps you forgot to stop the ride before driving home.

What do you do? Say nothing and lap up the praise like countless others have undoubtedly done? Or do the right thing and hide the file? The good news is Tom Pidcock is not like countless others, but rather it seems he’s one of the “good uns.” The reigning World and Olympic Mountain Bike Champion made this mistake earlier this week when he accidentally broke the Coll Des Rates Strava KOM on a motor-paced training ride. Seemingly, Strava is not the first thing the Alpe d’Huez stage winner thinks of post-ride.

The image shows an Ineos Grenadiers rider holding onto a scooter.
Is that a scooter? Definitely! Is that Tom Pidcock holding onto it to take the Coll de Rates Strava KOM? Very unlikely, even though the rider pictured is said to be Pidcock, on the Coll de Rates on the same day he temporarily took the KOM.

The Coll De Rates, for those who don’t know it, climbs out of Parcent in eastern Spain, near the winter training camp hotspot that is Calpe on Spain’s Costa Blanca. At 6.52 km long with an average gradient of 5.2% and a total elevation gain of just 340 m, it’s a relatively modest climb by WorldTour climber standards. But with Team UAE Emirates’ Juan Aysuo sitting atop the 68,308 rider-strong Strava leaderboard with a mind-melting time of 12m 49 s and 30.5 kph average speed, a young Jonas Vingegaard in third, and Tejay van Garderen in fourth, the KOM standings are anything but modest.

You’ve got mail

Juan Ayuso only took the KOM earlier this week, but within a few days, every cyclist’s most dreaded “no-reply@” emails landed in his inbox: “Uh oh! Tom just stole your KOM!” One can only imagine Ayuso’s dismay; “not normal,” he may have muttered, his soul stinging worse than his legs atop the climb as he realised the Yorkshire hotpot had stuffed a huge 18 seconds into his time. And Ayuso may have been right.

Questions arose, though, when the file, and the KOM with it, promptly disappeared. Most assumed Pidcock, who is rumoured to be targeting a GC bid at the Tour de France this year, had hidden the file, wanting to fly under the radar and not draw attention to his current form and climbing legs. There’s an Olympic gold medal, rainbow jersey, and Alpe d’Huez-shaped flaw in that theory, though; it’s not as if Pidcock is an unknown talent.

As it turns out, Pidders is not like countless other Strava users, primarily because he could accidentally break the KOM on Coll de Rates, but secondly because on this occasion, when he did so not entirely off his own steam, he also did the right thing. The former cyclocross World Champion had been doing a motor-paced training ride with specific efforts on the Rates, which, when uploaded to Strava, had inadvertently taken the KOM. Realising the mistake, he deleted the file, thereby simultaneously handing the KOM back to its rightful owner and breaking the internet.

A KOM, and order, restored

A source close to Pidcock confirmed to Escape Collective he was doing motor-paced training on the climb, and hadn’t realised he had taken the KOM and so later deleted the file.

A friend of Escape Collective happened to be in the area on the day in question and took the above photo of Pidcock holding onto the scooter. While quite damning on first impressions, the iPhone user recalled how it seemed like Pidcock was doing some form of “40:20 intervals.” According to performance analytics provider Inscyd, 40:20s are named after their work-to-rest ratio – 40 seconds ON, 20 seconds OFF – and may help improve both aerobic and anaerobic power. That theory was somewhat backed up by the same source close to Pidcock who, while unable to comment specifically on Pidcock’s training, did mention the rider had been working on attacking at speed that day and using the scooter to get up to what was presumably race-specific speeds.

One can imagine how consecutive 40-second attacks like “ON” intervals, with 20 seconds of scooter-assisted recovery, would certainly put a rider like Pidcock in a position to accidentally go faster up a climb than 68,308 non-Tom Pidcocks, including other top pros.

A final question remains. With the final stage of the 2023 Tour de France Pidcock’s last public ride posted on his only sporadically updated Strava, one has to wonder why the Coll de Rates ride made it public in the first place. One must assume such a decorated rider isn’t all that focused on Strava segments, lesser still on holding onto motorcycles to achieve a KOM. Perhaps Tom was simply bored in his hotel room looking for some kicks in trolling Juan Ayuso? However, the ride file came to be posted and then deleted; it’s fun to think of Pidcock laughing to himself in the knowledge that Aysuo had just got mail.

What did you think of this story?