The day after he placed seventh in his ‘cross season debut at Superprestige Merksplas, world champion Tom Pidcock returned to the World Cup in Sunday’s muddy sixth round in Overijse, Belgium with an impressive second place. He had to make his way all the way from the back of the pack because of a mechanical soon after the start. Eli Iserbyt hung on to the series lead by a single point.
You can watch the 2022-2023 UCI ‘Cross World Cup at FloBikes.
Eli Iserbyt, winner of the first three World Cups, led Laurens Sweeck, winner of the last two, by four points going into Sunday’s race. Sweeck took Saturday’s second round of the Superprestige series and the overall lead.
Once again Cameron Jette was the lone Canadian in the race.
Pidcock immediately had a problem on Lap 1, dropping his chain, and was dead last. He moved past Jette, but he was way down the string, one that was led by Iserbyt, Vanthourenhout and Spaniard Filipe Orts. Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal teammates Iserbyt and Vanthourenhout finished the first circuit 10 seconds ahead of Pim Ronhaar and Orts. Pidcock was 9th at +0:20. Jette sat 41st.
The world champion moved into fourth place at the start of Lap 2. Soon he was third and closing in on European champion Vanthourenhout and Iserbyt. With 18:00 raced, the Brit made the junction.
Pidcock went to the front on Lap 3 of 7 and tried to drop the teammates. Ronhaar and van der Haar made up the trio’s closest pursuers. Iserbyt lagged a bit and Vanthourenhout was having trouble keeping up. Soon Pidcock was solo, splashing his way through the mud.
Going into Lap 4 Vanthourenhout was back by four seconds and Iserbyt was 15 seconds in arrears. Jette climbed off the bike. Thibau Nys passed Iserbyt to vie for the final podium spot. Vanthourenhout made it back to Pidcock and the duo started lapping guys. Sweeck, thinking about taking over the World Cup lead from Iserbyt, muscled into fourth position.
Pidcock’s extraordinary efforts began to show on Lap 5, as Vanthourenhout started to pull clear. A fall from the European champ brought Pidcock back to his wheel.
In the penultimate lap, the scrap for the final podium spot was between Sweeck and van der Haar. Pidcock pried open a gap but he then crashed. Vanthourenhout quickly amassed a 12-second lead. Van der Haar slipped past Sweeck.
When Vanthourenhout heard the bell, he was only eight seconds clear. It was edge-of-the-seat stuff. Pidcock made an error and it was Advantage Vanthourenhout. They both took clean bikes. Despite the Brit’s relentless pursuit, Vanthourenhout carried the day.
The next round is next Sunday in Hulst, the Netherlands.
2022-2023 UCI ‘Cross World Cup, Round 6, Overijse
1) Michael Vanthourenhout (Belgium/Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) 1:05:42
2) Tom Pidcock (Great Britain/Ineos) +0:03
3) Lars van der Haar (The Netherlands/Baloise Trek Lions) +0:37
43) Cameron Jette (Canada) DNF