Pidcock's win comes 27 years after the last male World Cup XC winner; Gary Foord's Mammoth Mountain victory in 1994.
UK cycling phenom Tom Pidcock has just won the Czech Republic round of the 2021 World Cup XC series. This is the first male XC World Cup winner from Britain for 27 years. The last UK winner of World Cup XC was actually only back in 2017 when Annie Last won at Lenzerheide. The last British male World Cup XC winner was the legendary Gary Foord in Mammoth Mountain in 1994, the era of the much longer but far less technically demanding XC racing.
The victory looks likely to secure him a place in the Olympics in Tokyo later this year. The decision is not automatic but following on from last weekend’s World Cup in Albstadt, Germany which Pidcock finished an incredibly impressive 5th place after staring way back in 71st place on the start grid. And that was with suffering a puncture on a latter lap too.
Pidcock finished the six laps of the slippery Czech Republic race course in 1hr 20min 55secs. He beat 2nd place Mathieu Van Der Poel by 1 minute exactly; which was the largest winning margin at Nove Mesto in the Czech Republic in the event’s history. Flueckinger grabbed the 3rd spot. In another sign of the changing times, Nino Schurter missed out on the podium of Nove Mesto for the first time ever in the venue’s history.
During the first half the race Pidcock lead quite comfortably by around 30 seconds. But by lap 4 the gap suddenly leaped to around the 60 second mark. A lead which maintained up until the last section of the final lap when Pidcock finally took his foot off the accelerator a bit. The chasing pair of Van Der Poel and Flueckinger seemed to accept their runner-up spots and duked it out for 2nd and 3rd spots during the last half of the race.
It was on the climbs where, as ever, this World cup XC was won. Pidcock dominated both the steep but smooth ascent and the rooty, sticky, more technical ascent. Indeed, Pidcock was the only one of the podium riders who actually rode the rooty climb. Van Der Poel and Flueckinger dismounted and ran with their bikes.
Pidcock generally looked more at ease and composed on his mountain bike than Van Der Poel, who didn’t seem quite his regular bike-handling self.
It’s a shame we won’t be seeing more Pidcock-vs-Van Der Poel battles during the rest of this season. Van Der Poel is heading back to the road racing scene (something called the Tour de France). But we will be seeing Pidcock in more World Cup XC rounds this season.
In an interview with Red Bull TV after his victory, a not very tired looking Pidcock stated “I think I was born to do mountain bike.
“It sounds stupid but I think it’s what I’ve done since I was little and what I’ve enjoyed the most. Coming here and winning an elite World Cup at my second attempt…well…first attempt on an equal playing field it’s pretty insane really.”
Regarding the Olympic questions, Pidcock said: “It’s not frustrating really because I would still be racing here today, doesn’t affect what’s going on now. I’m certainly in great shape. I’m going to take a break now, and then build hopefully towards the Olympics. I think I’ve shown what I can do on a mountain bike.”