Tom Pidcock‘s Sunday afternoon was anything but quiet. Jammed gears, a heavy crash, and a broken shoe all conspired to undo what was in fact a storming ride from the World Champion in Overijse.
Pidcock’s mishaps came at the start and end of the World Cup race, sandwiching a stunning surge from the back of the field to the front.
Having put himself into a winning position, going shoulder-to-shoulder with Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), the Ineos Grenadiers rider then crashed on the penultimate lap and had to settle for second place.
“I can be proud but it was very frustrating,” Pidcock said in summary of his race.
Almost as soon as the start was given and the riders sprinted out of the blocks, Pidcock was alone off the back with some sort of mechanical problem.
“My gears got jammed. I don’t know why – it’s a bit strange,” Pidcock explained after the race.
“I had to get chain out, then I look up… we’ve done five seconds of racing and I’m already last, so I was thinking ‘ah this is gonna be a hard day’.”
The fire lit, Pidcock made a storming comeback, picking his way through the back of the pack on the fast, early sections before muscling his way through on some of the tighter sections. Remarkably, by the end of the first lap he’d gone from 43rd place up into ninth, crossing the line in a strong group of riders.
On the second lap, the charge continued, as he left that group behind and then made his way across to the two frontrunners, Vanthourenhout and Eli Iserbyt. On the third lap Iserbyt fell away, leaving Pidcock and Vanthourenhout to slug it out, exchanging places in a tense battle.
The pair looked evenly matched but the next twist came on the penultimate lap, when Pidcock slipped out on a cobbled section of the circuit.
“I came off the dirt onto the cobbles, my wheel slipped, and I fell right on the cobbles,” Pidcock explained. “I think I’m going to be pretty sore in the morning.”
But that wasn’t the only consequence. “Actually, my shoe broke, so I was struggling running. It was coming off every time I stood in the mud,” Pidcock added.
“So it was a difficult two laps but I thought ‘I can’t give up, I’ve got to try and get a win in this jersey’.”
Pidcock chased gamely on the final lap and made some inroads but Vanthourenhout didn’t falter, and reached the finish with time to sit up and celebrate.
It was a frustrating afternoon but Pidcock could take heart from his performance in only his second race of the ‘cross season, having taken a more anonymous seventh place in the Superprestige in Merksplas the previous afternoon.
“I can be pleased,” said the World Champion. “From yesterday I’m much more used to the race pace and the technical parts.
“I can be pleased but it would have been nice to get my hands in the air.”