Tom Pidcock is clearly very confident coming into this weekend’s World Cup racing. On Friday, he backed that up with a win in the elite men’s short track that the Brit made look like child’s play. Up against the best in the world, Pidcock sprinted to win without even a grimace or a smile.
It was a tactically perfect showing from the reigning Olympic champion, to be sure. But Pidcock executed his plan with such ease that he looked like a youth basketball coach casually fending off a swarm of kids as he moved toward the net for an easy lay-up. No showy slam dunk, just easy points on the board. And surely an ominous sign of what the field should expect when this weekend’s main event, the 90-minute XCO, starts Sunday in Nove Mesto.
Pidcock’s casual spin to win in Nove Mesto
Pidcock was a late entry into Friday’s event and started in the last row. Actually, the Ineos rider decided to start a good 10 feet behind the last row. Pidcock and another rider lined up well back of the bunch as if they were going to take a run at the field when the start gun fired.
Pidcock did the opposite. As the world’s best mountain bikers sprinted off the line the road pro, who seems to enjoy dabbling in winning mountain bike races, casually rolled onto the back of the bunch. If the positioning was strategic, it proved to be a wise one when he easily avoided crash mid-pack on the opening lap.
From there, the Brit slowly worked his way forward, lap-by-lap, over the course of the 20-minute race. While Chilean phenom Martin Vidaurre (Specialized) and German powerhouse Luca Schwarzbauer (Canyon Cllctv) vied for position at the front, intent on proving they could dictate the pace of the race, Pidcock waited.
And then he pounced. On the last lap, Pidcock moved up to third wheel as the field flew through a series of log drops nicknamed “The Elevator.” He moved to second wheel behind Schwarzbauer as they climbed the main hill. Short track world champion Sam Gaze sat ominously in third wheel, also looking to time his effort out of the big German’s draft.
Just before the final corner leading into the short, 120m-long finish straight, Pidcock attacked. Gaze bobbled ever so slightly in the mixed gravel and pavement final corner, leaving him stuck behind a fading Schwarzbauer….
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