Home > MTB

Pidcock out-duels Dascalu for Nové Město World Cup win

Holmgren works through massive men's field for career-best elite result

Photo by: Bartek Wolinski/Red Bull Content Pool

Tom Pidcock battled through mechanicals and bad legs on Sunday and still came away with a thrilling World Cup XCO win. The story of the day, though, is Nino Schurter’s remarkable battle back from an untimely flat tire to salvage his World Cup season.

RELATED: Four Canadian juniors storm Nové Město top 10

For Canadian fans, the big news in Nové Město is Gunnar Holmgren. The Pivot Cycles-OTE racer crushed his way through the elite men’s field to a career-best elite World Cup finish, and the top elite Canuck result in the Czech Republic.

Nino Schurter pours on pressure early in Nove Mesto. Photo:  Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

2022 Nove Mesto World Cup: An elite front group

Luca Schwarzauer (Canyon Cllctv) flies off the line in the elite men’s XCO, starting off Sunday at approximately the same pace he used to win Friday’s short track race. Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing) quickly takes over with Vlad Dascalu (Trek Factory Racing) on his wheel.

Filippo Colombo takes over the lead, with Dascalu and Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM), still hunting for the 34th win, on his wheel. Sam Gaze (Alpecin Fenix), an u23 world champ in Nove Mesto, is there as well. Tom Pidcock (Ineos), a pre-race favourite, is unexpectedly back in ninth, behind U.S. World Cup winner Christopher Blevins.

That doesn’t last long, though. Pidcock starts making his way up the ranks. Despite the blistering pace, the Brit is passing the world’s fastest riders like they are standing still. Pidcock rode solo in Nove Mesto mud to win his first World Cup in 2021. The state is quickly being set for a repeat of that solo win.

After an initial effort Thomas Pidcock looked content to sit in with the leaders. Photo:  Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool
Pidcock applies pressure

The field senses the very real danger, though and is not letting the Olympic champ get away. Schurter passes Colombo to take up position on Pidcock’s wheel. Alan Hatherly (Cannondale Factory Racing) follows. They’ve opened a lead to Dascalu, as Colombo’s come off the bike and disrupted the chase group at the top of the climb.

Looking to neutralize the Pidcock threat a bit, Dascalu puts himself on the front of the four-rider leading group. Pidcock follows, with Schurter and Hatherly close behind. Mathias Flueckiger (Thous Maxon) is fighting to try join, leading a sizeable chase group of Schwarzbauer, Gaze, Blevins, Avancini, Anton Cooper (Trek Factory Racing), and Colombo.

Starting the second half of the race, the front group of 10 is all but back together. Schurter takes to the front, ahead of Dascalu and Pidcock. Hatherly and Flueckiger barely hanging onto the back, struggling to hold the pace of the front trio.

Nino Schurter chases past XCC winner Luca Schwarzbauer. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool
Schurter derailed

On the fifth lap, Dascalu attacks. It immediately puts the group in trouble. Schurter, fighting to keep a flat rear tire rolling, is distanced. The world champion is still fighting, but the front 20 are all so close together he’s quickly swallowed up by the pack. His visions of a 34th World Cup appear to be disappearing up the trail ahead of him.

Going out onto lap six of eight, the front group of four remains together. Flueckiger and Dascalu are taking turns leading. Pidcock is happy sitting in, either struggling with the pace or biding his time for an attack. Hatherly also holds on, still, but isn’t attempting to push the pace.

Further back, Schurter isn’t giving up. He takes 10 seconds back from the leaders on just one lap, 15 on the next. He’s soon back inside the top 10, but the Swiss star has plenty of room to go before he’ll see the front of the race again.

Pidcock finally takes his turn to attack at the group goes out on the penultimate lap. Dascalu and Flueckiger follow. Hatherly fights back to rejoin that trio yet again. Anton Cooper chases alone. He’s 23 seconds back at the lap point but, perhaps due to a slow at the front, quickly joins the front group.

Schurter’s remarkable comeback

Schurter is charging hard. From 47-second behind in 10th at the start-finish, he’s cut the gap to the leaders down to 18 seconds at the mid-point of this seventh lap. It’s an impressive feat, and unfortunate that it’s in service of a chase, not an attack off the front.

The front group is starting to sense the danger. But, as they go out onto the final lap, it’s still a question of who will take up the initiative to pick up the pace.

Flueckiger leads across the line, but all five are sitting up through the start-finish. Schurter continues attacking and, unbelievably, makes contact with the leaders. With one lap to go, it’s all back together.

Vlad Dascalu follows Pidcock and Schurter into the rocks of Nove Mesto. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool
Dascalu versus Pidcock

Dascalu attacks. Schurter is, somehow, the first to respond. They have a gap, as Pidcock takes a moment to wind up his pace and take chase. Flueckiger and Cooper struggle to match the move, as Hatherly is, once again, off the back.

At the front, Dascalu has the advantage. Pidcock passes Schurter, who finally appears to be feeling some effect of his monumental effort to rejoin the front group.

Pidcock manages to close the gap to Dascalu just as they enter the final descent towards the finish line. Schurter is solidly in third but falls to 13 seconds behind the attacking duo.

Dascalu edges to a slight advantage through the Rock’n’Roll section. Pidcock launches himself through the pump track to try close the gap. It’s a long sprint for both as they come in towards the finish area.

Pidcock makes contact as they hit the tarmac and immediately launches his own sprint. Dascalu can’t respond. Pidcock takes the win, repeating his victory in Czech Republic from one year ago.

“To be honest, I felt like crap all race. I just had one pace, I couldn’t put in the pace to split it,” Pidcock revealed in his post-race interview. “I was having problems with my bike all race. But I knew if I could just hold the gap to Vlad on that last lap, the headwind on the finish would work in my favour.”

Nino Schurter gets a massive roar from the crowd as he crosses the line third, an appropriate acknowledgment of his remarkable effort. Cooper out sprints Haltherly and Flueckiger to take fourth.

Schurter, with his remarkable third, keeps the World Cup overall lead. Pidcock sits second, with Dascalu third overall.

Despite an off-day, it’s still champagne showers for Pidcock in Nove Mesto. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool
Pidcock’s mountain bike future?

With two wins in two World Cup XCO appearances this year, the obvious question is whether the Brit will continue with his mountain bike campaign. To date, Albstadt and Nove Mesto are the only elite World Cups he’s contested.

“I would like to try some of the other ones at some point,” Pidcock says with a laugh and wry smile, “I seem to keep doing these two.”

Canadians in Czech

Gunnar Holmgren (Pivot Cycles-OTE) continues his impressive elite debut season, clawing his way up from 60th on the first lap to an incredible 23rd place finish in the men’s race. That’s his best elite World Cup finish by two positions, after a 25th in Brazil at the season opener.

RELATED: Inside Gunnar Holmgren’s excellent elite World Cup debut in Brazil

Andrew L’Esperance (Maxxis Factory Racing) put in a strong result to finish 45th, with Quinton Disera (Canyon Devo) one spot behind in 46th. Peter Disera (Norco Factory Team) followed 30 seconds later in 51st. Tyler Orschel (Canyon Devo) in 63rd, Sean Fincham (Norco Factory Team) in 68th, Marc-Andre Fortier (Pivot Cycles-OTE) in 78th and Victor Verreault (Forresco Holdings ProCo RL) in 95th round out the Canadian effort.

RESULTS: World Cup XCO #3 – Nové Město na Moravě