Tom Pidcock (Trinity Racing) claimed his first major international cyclo-cross victory as an elite on Sunday, riding away from world champion Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) at Superprestige Gavere.
After finishing a distant second to the Dutchman in his first elite Worlds earlier this year, the 21-year-old Briton demonstrated his progression in his second elite season with a commanding display in the Gavere mud.
Having taken the reigns on the opening lap, it looked like he might be paying for his early efforts as Van der Poel and Toon Aerts (Telenet Baloise Lions) came back to him and then started to drop him. But Pidcock assertively muscled through to the front at the half-way mark and proceeded to drop Aerts and then ride away from Van der Poel, who made a couple of costly errors.
Even so, Pidcock, who clearly wasn’t fading at all, was the strongest rider on the course and only extended his lead as he soloed through the last two-and-a-half laps.
He came to the finish line, where he sat up with a celebration of disbelief, some 25 seconds clear of Van der Poel. Aerts claimed the final podium spot at 44 seconds.
Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) finished fourth to retain his overall lead in the Superprestige series. The European champion had a slow start but soon established himself as the lead chaser behind the front three, although he was unable to claw his way back to Aerts in the final laps.
Only four riders finished within a minute of Pidcock, as Lars van der Haar (Telenet Baloise Lions) and Michael Vanthourenhout (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal) came home ahead of the Tormans Team trio of Quentin Hermans, Corne van Kessel, and Pidcock’s compatriot Thomas Mein. Daan Soete (Hens-Maes) rounded out the top 10
In the overall Superprestige standings, Iserbyt sees his lead cut by Aerts to four points, but there’s now an 11-point gulf to third place, where Vanthourenhout has leap-frogged Sweeck. Two rounds of the Superprestige remain, in Heuden-Zolder and Middelkerke.
How it unfolded
Hermans had the best start but it wasn’t long before Pidcock stated his intentions. He muscled past Van der Poel early on to make his way over to Hermans and then drop the Belgian. Such was his charge, he was alone out front with a lead of five seconds at the end of the first of eight laps.
Van der Poel made his way across as Pidcock visited the pits, but there were signs of what was to come as the youngster was stronger on the descents and steep bankings. Van der Poel did make contact, while Aerts managed to drag himself across by the end of lap 2 to make it a leading trio.
It was on lap 3 where Pidcock’s grip slipped, and it looked like he may have set out too hard. He managed to stay in contact but Aerts took control on lap 4 and Pidcock was left dangling, yo-yoing off the back of the leaders. He looked in real trouble when Van der Poel took it up on the longer drag of a climb, but he clawed his way back and even muscled through to the front as the trio crossed the line. It wasn’t just a psychological game, as Pidcock from there established himself as far and away the strongest rider in the race.
Aerts was the first to fall away on lap, and Pidcock looked comfortable this time as Van der Poel again led up the long climb. By the end of lap 5, the duo had nine seconds over Aerts, while Iserbyt had punched clear of the main chase and was at 17 seconds.
Lap 6 was the turning point. Van der Poel made a couple of mistakes and had to put his foot down, the second time leaving him struggling through the thick mud. Pidcock had a gap, and from there he prized it open. He was on the charge again and had 14 seconds in hand at the end of lap 6, at which point Aerts was at 25 seconds and Iserbyt back at 41. The trend continued on the final two laps as Pidcock went from strength to strength while the rest started to fade.
He’d put another second into Van der Poel at the bell and made no mistake on the final lap to finish off what was surely one of the defining performances of his young career.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Trinity Racing||0:58:11|
|2||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin Fenix||0:00:25|
|3||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:00:44|
|4||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:00:54|
|5||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:01:01|
|6||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:01:13|
|7||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:01:31|
|8||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:02:47|
|9||Thomas Mein (GBr) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:03:24|
|10||Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:03:33|
|11||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:03:39|
|12||Nicolas Cleppe (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:03:41|
|13||Ben Turner (GBr) Trinity Racing||0:03:43|
|14||Pim Ronhaar (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:04:12|
|15||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:04:17|
|16||Marcel Meisen (Ger) Alpecin-Fenix|
|17||David van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix||0:04:20|
|18||Yentl Bekaert (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:04:22|
|19||Timo Kielich (Bel) Credishop-Fristads||0:04:27|
|20||Tom Meeusen (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:04:33|
|21||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Ned) Team Sunweb||0:04:39|
|22||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Credishop-Fristads||0:05:03|
|23||Toon Vandebosch (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||0:05:12|
|24||Thijs Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||0:05:28|
|25||Lander Loockx (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||0:05:32|
|26||Loris Rouiller (Swi) Alpecin-Fenix||0:05:36|
|27||Emiel Verstrynge (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:05:37|
|28||Mees Hendrikx (Ned) Credishop-Fristads||0:05:59|
|29||Joran Wyseure (Bel) Acrog - Tormans Balen BC||0:06:07|
|30||Kevin Kuhn (Swi) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||0:06:18|
|31||Curtis White (USA) Cannondale p/b Cyclocrossworld||0:06:32|
|32||Joshua Dubau (Fra)||0:06:42|
|33||Yan Gras (Fra) AAA Sörius||0:06:51|
|34||Seppe Rombouts (Bel) Acrog - Tormans Balen Bc||0:07:33|
|35||Aurélien Philibert (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team||0:07:51|
|36||Robin Alderweireld (Bel) Team Atom 6||0:08:04|
|37||Michael van den Ham (Can)||-1 lap|
|38||Anton Ferdinande (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||- 2 laps|
|39||Arthur Tropardy (Fra)|
|40||Lucas Dubau (Fra)|
|41||Wout Vervoort (Bel) Iko-crelan|
|42||Joachim van Looveren (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|43||Hugo Jot (Fra) Ardennes Cross Team|
|44||Gabriel Timothé (Fra)|
|45||Koen van Dijke (Ned)||-3 laps|
|46||Bart Artz (Ned)|
|47||Ydris Salomez (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|48||Yves Coolen (Bel) Beat Cycling Team||-4 laps|
|49||Lucas Brondani (Fra) AS Bike Crossteam|
|DNF||Tim Merlier (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|DNF||Diether Sweeck (Bel) Credishop-Fristads|
|DNF||Jim Aernouts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions|
|DNF||Gianni Siebens (Bel) Urbano Cycling Team|
|DNF||Vincent Oger (Bel) Entente Cycliste de Wallonie|
|DNF||Klaas Groenen (Ned)|
|DNF||Dolf Pemen (Bel) Proximus-Alphamotorhomes-Doltcini CT|
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||84|
|2||Toon Aerts (Bel) Telenet Baloise Lions||80|
|3||Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||69|
|4||Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||66|
|5||Lars van der Haar (Ned) Telenet Baloise Lions||65|
|6||Corne van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||61|
|7||Daan Soete (Bel) Group Hens-Maes Containers||42|
|8||Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team||36|
|9||Ryan Kamp (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal||30|
|10||Felipe Orts Lloret (Spa) Teika-BH-Gsport||23|
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