Britain's Tom Pidcock spends most of his professional cycling life on his road bike, but when he ventures off of the tarmac and grabs his mountain bike, he is unstoppable.

The 24-year-old Yorkshireman, whose day job is with Ineos Grenadiers, a British professional cycling team, has been described as a generational talent on two wheels and looks destined to win a Grand Tour before long.

Few who witnessed his Bastille Day victory on Alpe d'Huez in the 2022 Tour de France will forget his jaw-dropping bike-handling skills as he descended Col du Galibier like lightning.

He also won the Strade Bianche in 2023 — a race with large gravel sections, which are nothing to Pidcock, whose junior days were spent on the cyclo-cross circuit.

While road racing is often tactically complicated, a mountain bike race lets Pidcock's passion off the leash.

"It's how I enjoy racing — when you're just having fun and getting excited by it," Pidcock says. "It's difficult for me to concentrate for a full Grand Tour and be patient."

At last year's world championships, Pidcock stormed away from Swiss great Nino Schurter in a fashion similar to his gold-winning performance against a high-quality cross-country field at the Tokyo Olympics.

Tom Pidcock of The United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers sprints during the 111th Tour de France 2024, Stage 7 a 25.3km individual time trial stage from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin / #UCIWT / on July 05, 2024 in Gevrey-Chambertin, France.
Tom Pidcock of the United Kingdom and Team INEOS Grenadiers sprints during the 2024 Tour de France, Stage 7 a 25.3km individual time trial stage from Nuits-Saint-Georges to Gevrey-Chambertin on July 5, 2024 in Gevrey-Chambertin, France.
Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images

Pidcock is riding the Tour de France this year, hunting stage wins or even a podium finish before returning to Paris, where he says defending his Olympic cross-country title is a priority.

"My priority is mountain biking [at the Olympics], and I've made that clear to the British team," Pidcock, who will also compete in the road race, told Cycling Weekly.

His outings on the mountain bike have been limited this season, and he admits he is something of an outsider. But he underlined his class when he won the World Cup at Nove Mesto for the fourth year in a row, beating Schurter by 32 seconds.

Sadly for fans in Paris, a mouth-watering duel between Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel is unlikely to happen, with the Dutch road world champion prioritizing the Tour de France and the Olympic road race this year.

That showdown also failed to materialize in Tokyo when Van der Poel, who like Pidcock has mountain bikes in his DNA, crashed early on, allowing Pidcock to easily pull ahead for the win.

While Pidcock will be a red-hot favorite for the men's race on the Elancourt Hill —  the highest point in the Paris region —  France's Pauline Ferrand-Prevot will be the rider to beat in the women's event as she looks to deliver gold.

The 32-year-old five-time cross-country world champion will retire from mountain bikes and switch to road at the end of the season, but she has unfinished business in the discipline after failing to finish at the Rio Olympics and then suffering an early crash in Tokyo, where she ended up in 10th.

"This is my last chance to try to be Olympic champion, so I don't want to miss it," she said after winning at Nove Mesto. "It will be for sure my last on MTB, so I want to do everything to be good this year and to try to win the Olympics at home."

The cross-country races in Paris will feature multiple laps of the 4.4km Elancourt circuit, which uses existing trails.