Features Insight

2020 review: breakthrough rides #2 | Thomas Gloag

Inside Thomas Gloag's standout performance on stage 7 of the Baby Giro

At the start of 2020 we already knew Thomas Gloag had talent. As he began his first year as an under-23, the VC Londres graduate had a heap of notable results under his belt. In 2019, for example, he took a stage win and second overall at the Kingdom Junior Classic, third overall at the Sint-Martinusprijs Kontich Juniors stage race, as well as wins in the Spanish junior one-day races Zumarraga and Torneo Euskal Herria. He then capped the year off with a stage win in the Junior Tour of Wales.

Tom is pure passion on a bike. A style reminiscent of Dan Martin, not scared to go long and a hunger to race

George Jary

Insiders at VC Londres – the club that has helped to produce talents including Ethan Hayter and Fred Wright – were also tipping him for a bright future. Our formal journal contributor George Jary, also a VC Londres member, told us: “Tom is pure passion on a bike. A style reminiscent of Dan Martin, not scared to go long and a hunger to race. Never phased by setbacks Tom gets on with it and gets stuck in.” We duly included him on our list of first-year under-23s to watch.

Despite the hype, we weren’t quite expecting Tom to make the impact he did. The transition to the espoirs ranks from junior level can be tough. And with few racing opportunities for Tom and his peers in 2020, our expectations for him were muted when he took to the start of the Baby Giro this year. Not least because he’d need to ride in the service of one of the pre-race favourites, and eventual winner, Tom Pidcock.

Photo: Lizzie Haumesser

Thomas Gloag (Trinity Racing) | 4th, stage 7, Giro Ciclistico D’Italia (2.2U) | 4 September

Tom acquitted himself well in the first six stages of the race, working tirelessly for his team leader. Before stage 7 he sat 29th overall and was 3rd in the young rider classification. With two decisive mountain stages remaining, his focus was on helping Pidcock to defend his 58-second lead. The Trinity team were down to just three riders, however, meaning it would be up to just Tom and Ben Healy to control the race and protect their team leader. No pressure then.

Nonetheless, Tom and Ben were successful in their mission. Pidcock won the stage in emphatic fashion to extend his race lead after Tom had shepherded him up much of the final climb. Not only that, Tom finished 4th on the stage himself. An incredible performance, just days before his 19th birthday. One that – in our eyes – confirmed his status as one of the most promising young British riders around.

He repeated the trick on the following day’s final stage too, crossing the line in 7th, bumping himself up to 14th overall. A mighty fine debut in the toughest under-23 stage race of 2020.

When we asked Tom to reflect on his breakthrough performance on stage 7, his response was a modest one. Perhaps an indication that he’s a rider who will stay grounded, no matter how far he takes things in cycling.

“On paper stage 7 may look like a breakthrough result, but at the time my individual result didn’t feel particularly significant. The bigger news of the day was Tom’s win in emphatic style and extended lead on GC. The fact I had been able to stay with Tom for so long on the climb felt more significant than the final result for me. I hadn’t come into the race with any expectation to be in contention for results myself and throughout the race, the objective was to help Pidcock as much as possible. I learnt a great deal riding next to Tom and Ben throughout the race while having loads of fun helping Tom a bit on his way to win.”

The learning curve I experienced riding in a team of that calibre was of far more value than my personal achievement

“So honestly, my personal result was a bit of an afterthought for me, which is weird to say, but the learning curve I experienced riding in a team of that calibre was of far more value than my personal achievement. Having said that it’s nice to have and something cool for the firstcycling.com profile.”