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Tom Pidcock stuns van der Poel to win Nove Mesto World Cup

Bouchard top Canadian in the Czech Republic

2021 XCO World Cup Nove Mesto Tom Pidcock Photo by: Bartek Wolinksi / Red Bull Content Pool

Tom Pidcock silenced any questions about his ability to mix road and mountain biking on Sunday, dropping rival Mathieu van der Poel to win his first elite World Cup in Nove Mesto.

“I was born to mountain bike,” the the 21-year-old Ineos Grenadier said after his win. It’s the first by XCO World Cup win by a British man since 1994, five years before Pidcock was born.

Sunday’s win is also a big step in Pidcock’s bid to race the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Nove Mesto is the last race in the Olympic qualification process, though – in a quirk befitting of the UCI – its not actually Pidcock’s result that will determine his fate on that front.

Mathieu Van Der Poel leads Tom Pidcock early in Nove Mesto’s elite men’s XCO. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.

Elite Men’s XCO – A battle brewing

Knowing the new rider in the field is threat, it was Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin Fenix), Victor Koretzky  (KMC-Orbea) and Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) on the front in the start loop. Pidcock looked confident, seeming happy to sit back when van der Poel and Schurter started to open a gap on the “Never Ending Climb” section on the course.

RELATED: Woods wins back-to-back U23 World Cups in Europe

Mathias Flueckiger (Thomus RN) joined the front two at the start of the first full lap. Pidcock stuck alone, in fourth, quickly bridged to the front group. Behind, the pace of the four leaders had blown the race apart.

That group didn’t last long. Pidcock surged to the front mid-way through the Lap 1, with only van der Poel following. Ondrej Cink (Kross Orlen) tried to chase, while Schurter and Flueckiger followed. Starting the second of six laps, the gap was already up to 23 seconds.

2021 XCO World Cup Nove Mesto Pidcock
Tom Pidcock moved past his rival, then rode away solo. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.

Pidcock vs van der Poel: Round 2

After going head-to-head on Friday in the XCC World Cup, it was once again a battle shaping up between van der Poel and newcomer Tom Pidcock. For a while, it looked like the Dutch phenom might repeat his win from Friday. Pidcock slipped while off his bike running up muddy rocks, where van der Poel rode.

Any signs of weakness from Pidcock quickly faded, though. As Flueckiger started to close in, the Ineos rider made his move. Part way through Lap 3 of 6, Pidcock put in a blistering attack. Immediately, the 21-year-old had pulled 18 seconds out of van der Poel, with Flueckiger floating several more seconds behind.

By the lap point, Pidcock was 31 seconds ahead of van der Poel. But, with half the race left to go, anything could happen. Instead, Pidcock used the extra time to open up more time on the superstar of Dutch cycling. By the end of the race, the winning margin was exactly one minute.

2021 XCO World Cup Nove Mesto Pidcock
Tom Pidcock showed he can ride with – and away from the best mountain bikers in the world. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.

Pidcock’s arrival

After struggling with mechanical difficulties in his first two World Cup appearances – a flat in Albstadt and gear issues on Friday – Pidcock rode flawlessly on Sunday in Nove Mesto. Not just riding with the top elites, Pidcock rode smart then attacked none other than Mathieu van der Poel to win solo.

It’s the first World Cup XCO win for a British man in 27 years. Gary Foord was the last, way back in 1994.

“Honestly, I think I was born to do mountain bike,” Pidcock said after his historic win. “It’s what I’ve done since I was little and it’s what I enjoy the most.”

“I’m certainly in great shape – I’m not going to come here and say I’m not 100 percent,” the Ineos rider said, after winning by the biggest margin the Nove Mesto course has ever seen. “I’m going to take a break now and build towards – hopefully the Olympics. I think I’ve shown what I can do on a mountain bike.”

2021 XCO World Cup Nove Mesto van der Poel
Mathieu Van Der Poel was put in the rare position of being on the back foot in Nove Mesto. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.

Van der Poel rode consistently in the latter half of the race. Battling with Mathias Flueckiger, the 26-year-old Dutch rider finished second, though he will be more concerned with Pidcock’s form than his own podium finish. Flueckiger finishes third, with Ondrej Cink fourth on his home track and world champion Jordan Sarrou (Specialized) stealing the final podium spot in fifth.

Nino Schurter struggled, crashing on his way to finish seventh. The eight-time elite world champion finishes off the podium in Nove Mesto for the first time since World Cup cross country started visiting the Czech Republic. After a dominant few seasons, including his undefeated year in 2017, Schurter continues to struggle to match the pace of his young rivals, losing a sprint finish last weekend and riding off the pace today.

2021 XCO World Cup Nove Mesto pidcock van der Poel
Respect and congratulations between two young stars. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool.

In the balance – Pidcock’s Olympic dreams depend on Dascalu

Of note, Romania’s Vlad Dascalu (Trek-Pirelli) finished 17th. In the UCI’s convoluted Olympic qualification system, it could be this result that determines Pidcock’s fate, and not the British rider’s win.

Dascalu’s result in Nove Mesto moves Romania ahead of Slovakia on the nation rankings, earning them an Olympic berth. Dascalu would otherwise have qualified at the 2019 under-23 world champion, but will now earn that place as the Romain athlete instead. This moves Great Britain up the list, with that spot presumably going to Pidcock. The UCI is expected to release the complete list of qualified countries on Tuesday. It is then up to national federations to make their own selections.

The processes are impressively convoluted, but the end result is what matters. Tom Pidcock looks to have punched his ticket to Tokyo to race at the Olympic Games.

Canadians in Czech Republic

Léanrdre Bouchard (Pivot Cycles-OTE) moved steadily through the elite men’s field to earn the top Canadian finish in Nove Mesto in 19th. Peter Disera followed in 44th and Sean Fincham in 49th, both for Norco Factory Racing.

Andrew L’Esperance (Norco Factory Racing) finished 59th, Marc Andre Fortier (Pivot Cycles-OTE) 63rd, Tyler Orschel 78th, Quinton Disera (Norco Factory Racing) 88th and Raphael Auclair (Pivot Cycles-OTE) in 93rd. Aleandre Vialle (121st), Raphael Gagne (124th) and Felix Belhumeur (126th) round out the Canadian results.

Results: Elite Men’s XCO World Cup #2 – Nove Mesto, Czech Republic

1.
* PIDCOCK Thomas
1:20:55
2.
VAN DER POEL Mathieu (ALPECIN – FENIX)
1:21:55
+1:00
3.
FLUECKIGER Mathias (THÖMUS RN SWISS BIKE TEAM)
1:22:10
+1:15
4.
CINK Ondrej (KROSS ORLEN CYCLING TEAM)
1:22:55
+2:00
5.
SARROU Jordan (SPECIALIZED RACING)
1:23:16
+2:21
6.
HATHERLY Alan (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING)
1:23:23
+2:28
7.
SCHURTER Nino (SCOTT-SRAM MTB RACING TEAM)
1:23:59
+3:04
8.
COOPER Anton (TREK FACTORY RACING XC)
1:24:09
+3:14
9.
CAROD Titouan (ABSOLUTE-ABSALON – BMC)
1:24:32
+3:37
10.
GRIOT Thomas (MASSI)
1:24:46
+3:51
11.
CARSTENSEN Sebastian Fini (CST POSTNL BAFANG MTB RACING TEAM)
1:25:06
+4:11
12.
WAWAK Bartlomiej (KROSS ORLEN CYCLING TEAM)
1:25:33
+4:38
13.
BRAIDOT Luca (SANTA CRUZ FSA MTB PRO TEAM)
1:25:43
+4:48
14.
VADER Milan (KMC – ORBEA)
1:25:50
+4:55
15.
VALERO SERRANO David (BH TEMPLO CAFÉS UCC)
1:25:53
+4:58
16.
DUBAU Joshua (MASSI) L
1:26:00
+5:05
17.
DASCALU Vlad (TREK – PIRELLI)
1:26:06
+5:11
18.
COLLEDANI Nadir (MMR FACTORY RACING TEAM)
1:26:09
+5:14
19.
BOUCHARD Leandre (PIVOT CYCLES – OTE)
1:26:09
+5:14
20.
BLEVINS Christopher (TRINITY RACING MTB)
1:26:20
+5:25
21.
PHILIPP Antoine (GIANT FACTORY OFF – ROAD TEAM)
1:26:26
+5:31
22.
LITSCHER Thomas (KMC – ORBEA)
1:26:44
+5:49
23.
AVANCINI Henrique (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING)
1:27:03
+6:08
24.
KORETZKY Victor (KMC – ORBEA)
1:27:05
+6:10
25.
DE FROIDMONT Pierre (BH – WALLONIE MTB TEAM)
1:27:05
+6:10
26.
FLUECKIGER Lukas (AXXIOS-INFINITY)
1:27:06
+6:11
27.
ALBIN Vital (THÖMUS RN SWISS BIKE TEAM)
1:27:12
+6:17
28.
FORSTER Lars (SCOTT-SRAM MTB RACING TEAM)
1:27:23
+6:28
29.
* CULLELL ESTAPE Jofre (PRIMAFLOR MONDRAKER XSAUCE)
1:27:28
+6:33
30.
SINTSOV Anton (STRÜBY – BIXS TEAM)
1:27:40
+6:45
31.
BERTOLINI Gioele (TRINX FACTORY TEAM)
1:27:45
+6:50
32.
MAROTTE Maxime (SANTA CRUZ FSA MTB PRO TEAM)
1:27:51
+6:56
33.
TABACCHI Mirko (KTM PROTEK ELETTROSYSTEM)
1:27:58
+7:03
34.
SCHUERMANS Jens (SCOTT CREUSE OXYGENE GUERET)
1:28:07
+7:12
35.
GUERRINI Marcel (TORPADO URSUS)
1:28:12
+7:17
36.
GAZE Samuel (ALPECIN – FENIX)
1:28:15
+7:20
37.
FUMIC Manuel (CANNONDALE FACTORY RACING)
1:28:16
+7:21
38.
KERSCHBAUMER Gerhard (SPECIALIZED RACING)
1:28:19
+7:24
39.
SCHWARZBAUER Luca (LEXWARE MOUNTAINBIKE TEAM)
1:28:25
+7:30
40.
SCHELB Julian
1:28:29
+7:34
41.
ESTEBAN AGUERO Ismael
1:28:31
+7:36
42.
ULLOA AREVALO Jose Gerardo
1:28:34
+7:39
43.
INDERGAND Reto (GIANT FACTORY OFF – ROAD TEAM)
1:28:34
+7:39
44.
DISERA Peter (NORCO FACTORY TEAM XC)
1:28:35
+7:40
45.
MANTECON GUTIERREZ Sergio (MMR FACTORY RACING TEAM)
1:28:35
+7:40
46.
MARKT Karl (TREK | VAUDE)
1:28:43
+7:48
47.
BLUMS Martins (CST POSTNL BAFANG MTB RACING TEAM)
1:28:43
+7:48
48.
TEMPIER Stephane (TREK FACTORY RACING XC)
1:28:46
+7:51
49.
FINCHAM Sean (NORCO FACTORY TEAM XC)
1:28:57
+8:02
50.
SCHEHL Niklas (TEAM BULLS)
1:28:59
+8:04
59.
L’ESPERANCE Andrew (NORCO FACTORY TEAM XC)
1:29:48
+8:53
63.
FORTIER Marc Andre (PIVOT CYCLES – OTE)
1:30:29
+9:34
78.
ORSCHEL Tyler
1:17:36
+9:58
88.
DISERA Quinton (NORCO FACTORY TEAM XC)
1:19:01
+11:23
93.
AUCLAIR Raphael (PIVOT CYCLES – OTE)
1:05:19
+10:01
121.
VIALLE Alexandre
52:40
+9:29
124.
GAGNE Raphael
53:12
+10:01
126.
BELHUMEUR Felix (PIVOT CYCLES – OTE)
53:23
+10:12