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Tom Pidcock battles to third Nove Mesto XCO victory

Tom Pidcock battles to third Nove Mesto XCO victory

Tom Pidcock already had two elite World Cup wins in Nove Mesto coming into this weekend, plus another two under-23 XCO victories and a breezy short track win on Friday. That made him the clear favourite but it did not make his race any easier. Ineos Grenadiers’ superstar was challenged right up to the finish line by a dogged Joshua Dubau.

While lesser known in the elite men’s field, and nowhere near the stature Tom Pidcock, the young French rider raced with confidence, even putting the Ineos star on the backfoot at several points in the race.

The men lined up under very different course conditions than the women faced just hours earlier in Nove Mesto. Photo: Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

2023 elite men’s Nove Mesto World Cup

As he did in Friday’s short track XCC World Cup, Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon CLLCTV) put himself on the front off the start.

Sam Gaze (Alpecin-Fenix) takes up second with Nino Schurter (Scott-SRAM) and Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) in line behind them. Titouan Carod (Team BMC) slotted into fourth.

Heavy rain that started just before the men’s race would cause chaos all day. Gaze is the first of the favourites to be caught out and bobbles on a wet root and has an awkward uphill crash, holding up everyone but Schurter. Joshua Dubau (RockRider Racing) quickly joins the world champ as they try chase down the big German out front.

Pidcock, Fluckiger and Gaze quickly rejoin the front group and the field comes together starting the first full lap.

Pidcock doesn’t wait around, attacking Schwarzbauer and the front group on a steep climb. The Ineos rider has the German unintentionally blocking for him. A bobble from Schwarzbauer on a now rain-slicked rocky climb causes cascading chaos. Flueckiger puts a foot down and Schurter falls to the side as the racers, with nowhere to go around, ride into the backs of each other.

Dubau gets by clean and quickly passes Schwarzbauer to chase a rapidly disappearing Pidcock.

Tom Pidcock repeatedly attacked, but couldn’t make a lead stick. Photo:  Bartek Wolinski / Red Bull Content Pool

Dubau vs goliath

Pidcock repeatedly gaps Dubau over the next several laps but the young French rider repeatedly and stubbornly continues to chase back to Ineos’ superstar’s wheel. On descents, on climbs, Rockrider’s new talent refused to let Pidcock ride away to an easy win. When Pidcock bobbled on the tricky rocky climb, a frustrated look over the shoulder confirmed that Dubau had, again,…

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