Tom Pidcock admitted it was a “big disappointment” not to finish on the podium at the world cyclo-cross championships in Ostend on Sunday as Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel won the rainbow jersey for the fourth time in seven years.
Pidcock, 21, battled back from a slow start to finish fourth in the men’s elite race, just seconds behind Belgian Toon Aerts. But he was unable to get close to pre-race favourites Van der Poel and Wout van Aert on the sandy North Sea course. The two kings of cyclo-cross have between them now won the last seven world titles.
“I felt good today,” Pidcock told Sporza afterwards. “Some laps were good, some s—. I came close to Toon Aerts, but unfortunately not close enough.” In an interview with British Cycling, Pidcock added that he had been too tentative on the opening lap.
“I got a good start, but I just didn’t commit so I went back a bit,” he said. “Then in the first corner I was on the left and in the deep sand. I had to get off and run a bit, so I was far behind and it took me a while to get going.
“On the last lap, I was literally one or two seconds behind him [Aerts] — I’d pulled back 12 seconds — but coming into the finish he was in front of me so I wasn’t going to catch him.
“I certainly could have been on the podium, so it’s a big disappointment in that area. But in the end… within four or five years, no one will know who was third, so it’s not that bad now.”
Pidcock, who won Britain’s first cyclo-cross worlds medal last year, finishing runner-up behind Van der Poel will officially step up to WorldTour and join Ineos on Monday. He plans to continue to race cyclo-cross and mountain bike, targeting the latter at the Olympics this summer, as well as racing on the road.
“Overall, I can look back on my year of ‘cross with satisfaction,” he concluded. “It gives me confidence for the road season. I think I will be even stronger next season. Wout and Mathieu are four to five years older than me, so I have a little more time to grow. Hopefully, I can really put them to the test next year.”
In the women’s elite race on Saturday, Britain’s Evie Richards finished seventh as Dutchwoman Lucinda Brand took gold.