Tom Pidcock powered his way to mountain bike gold at the European Championships on Friday, becoming the first Briton to win the title in the process, despite crashing on the first lap.
The 23-year-old was dominant in the cross-country event in Munich, leaving his rivals behind with three laps of the course still to go, winning in the end by 11 seconds, although some of that time was lost celebrating.
The Ineos Grenadiers rider took gold ahead of Denmark’s Sebastian Fini Carstensen in seconds, while Switzerland’s Filippo Colombo took the bronze.
It was almost disaster from the beginning, after he crashed on the first corner, but he soon found his rhythm. Leaving the rest of the field clear after five laps meant a solo time trial around the course for three whole laps.
The race was an important test of form ahead of next week’s World Championships, and Pidcock certainly seems to have good legs. Friday was the first time he had raced since the Tour de France, where he won a monumental stage at Alpe d’Huez.
If he were to win the worlds next weekend, it would see him double up on rainbow stripes as he is currently cyclocross world champion too; it is not out of the question. The road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia, in September are another chance for the Briton to pull on the rainbow stripes.
“It’s certainly a good indication of my form,” the Olympic mountain bike champion said following his victory.
“Maybe I went a bit early, it’s hard out front on your own. But my intention was to make it hard for myself, because next week is the big goal, so it was a good day I think.
“It wasn’t easy after the Tour. I had a week of downtime and just riding my bike then I had a couple of weeks at altitude. It’s been weird. Sensations I never felt before, feeling jaded and tired. But I got some good training in and came down from altitude and felt a lot more myself.”
The Briton started to push the pace on the fourth lap on Friday, at the Olympiapark in Munich, and could only be followed by Frenchman Victor Koretzky and Switzerland’s Colombo. However, another burst of pace saw them dropped and the start of Pidcock’s lonely trek to the finish.
“There are still a couple of world championships to go so I’m not finished yet,” Pidcock concluded.