Cyclocross world champion Tom Pidcock staged a gritty performance in this afternoon’s World Cup event in Overijse, fighting back from a mechanical to take second place.
The Brit lost out to European champion Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) by just three seconds in his second race of the season, bowing his head in frustration as he came across the line.
The race started disastrously for Pidcock. As the bunch came into the first corner, the rainbow jersey was nowhere to be seen, having fallen victim to a bike issue on the start line.
The 23-year-old, however, clawed his way up through the field, and despite nursing a long-term knee injury, soon found himself alone at the front of the race with Vanthourenhout.
On the penultimate lap, Pidcock accelerated ahead, but a crash on a muddy cobbled section caused him to lose valuable seconds to the Belgian. The Brit went for broke on the final lap, but ultimately had to settle for second.
On Saturday, Pidcock eased into his cyclocross campaign with a seventh place at the Merksplas Superprestige, his first race since winning the World Championships in January.
“It was beetje moeilijk (a bit difficult),” Pidcock said after Saturday’s race. “On the corners I was losing so much time. My level was OK, but I was losing time in a lot of places.”
The world champion took a tumble on the technical Merksplas course, before crossing the line almost a minute and a half behind race winner Laurens Sweeck.
“It was maybe not the best race to start with,” the Ineos Grenadiers rider said. “There were just a few too many mistakes, but I’m happy. I was not bad.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, he added: “To win in this jersey would be nice.”
Earlier this week, Pidcock hinted that he would not defend his cyclocross world title next year in Hoogerheide, Netherlands.
“The road season is so much more important to me,” he told Belgian publication Het Nieuwsblad. “In 2023, I especially want to perform consistently in those spring Monuments. If I succeed, the results will follow.”
The UCI Cyclocross World Championships will be held on 4-5 February 2023, three weeks before the road calendar’s ‘Opening Weekend’ at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad.