Tom Pidcock overcame mechanical issues in the closing stages of the elite men’s cross-country Olympic mountain bike race at the World Championships to sensationally win gold and take the rainbow jersey.
The Yorkshireman completely obliterated his rivals – including Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, a multiple world champion, and Sam Gaze of New Zealand – and stormed to victory in Glentress Forest to take his second medal of the week.
His scintillating victory made him the first British rider to become the elite cross-country mountain bike world champion.
Speaking to the media, including Cycling Weekly, Pidcock explained post-race that issues with his bike left him fearing that his hard work to distance Schurter would ultimately come to nothing.
“My gears were not working on the last lap,” Pidcock explained. “They were jumping on every climb, and Gaze was coming behind. I thought it could all go in the bin at any moment.
“I could see [Gaze] was closing but it was frustrating, because I couldn’t go how I wanted to. I had to kind of pick my gear and stay in it. I was being careful.
“I looked at my bike just now and it’s loose, so I must have hit it.”
After carefully moving up through the pack over the course of several laps, Pidcock measured his effort to perfection in the latter stages of the race before eventually moving ahead of Schurter and South African Alan Hatherley.
Once he managed to manoeuvre himself in front of his rivals, the 24-year-old launched several accelerations on the steep climbs on the course which eventually distanced Schurter.
Pidcock told the media that the final laps had been a nerve-wracking experience.
“It feels good. I mean, it’s a big relief. It’s been a long week building up to this. In front of my home crowd, it’s pretty special,” he said.
“Coming down the final straight, I could finally soak it all in. Before that, the last few laps were so stressful. I just stayed focused by enjoying the crowd.”
The Yorkshireman explained that coming into the worlds on the back of the Tour de France had initially been tough. Pidcock skipped the elite men’s road race which was won by Mathieu van der Poel in order to fully focus on the mountain bike events in Scotland.
“It’s difficult, coming from the Tour and staying focused for an event like this, which is completely different,” he said. “It’s pretty hard, even though I love riding mountain bike.
“I would have loved to have done the road race. But it just wasn’t possible.”
The 24-year-old said that he was expecting to debut his new rainbow jersey in the coming weeks.
“At the moment I’m going to go on holiday then do Andorra, so I might not be any good,” he explained. “The Andorra test event and then the two world cups in America are my plans at the moment.”
In the buildup to the men’s cross-country race the UCI sparked controversy by deciding to move Van der Poel, Pidcock and Peter Sagan up the start order for the race.
Pidcock slammed the decision and highlighted the unfairness of the last minute rule change.
“It’s bulls**t,” he said. “I think it’s pretty outrageous… a rule like that needs to be put in place, on 1st January. I sacrificed three weeks of my preparation for the Tour to try and get some points for the MTB race and then this week they change the rule. You can’t do that. It’s not fair.”
The 24-year-old explained that he had visited the Glentress Forest area previously with his father, Giles, to ride the local trails and that the similarities to his home county had spurred him on even more.
“I came here many years ago with my Dad mountain biking. It’s a lovely place. It reminds me of Yorkshire and it’s a beautiful place.”