The last confirmed meeting of the “big three” riders of cyclocross at the Koksijde round of the X2O Trophy on Thursday is off as the event has been informed that Tom Pidcock is ill and will be unable to compete. He also cancelled a planned start at the Hexia Cross in Gullegem on Saturday.
It would have been the final chance for World Champion Mathieu van der Poel to face off against the two former world champions, Wout van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) and Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers). There could be a rematch at the Benidorm World Cup on January 21, 2024, should Van Aert choose to race there.
Pidcock suffered in the opening ‘cross race of the year at the GP Sven Nys in Baal, where he dropped behind the chasing group and finished 12th, some five minutes adrift of Van der Poel.
“We received an email this afternoon from Tom Pidcock’s entourage. The Brit is ill and therefore cannot start,” the race organisers confirmed to Het Laatste Nieuws.
“We, of course, regret this, but the health of the rider comes first. It’s a shame that we don’t have the ‘Big Three’ at the start, but our field of participants should still be good. Lars van der Haar, the leader in the rankings, is also present alongside the cream of the cyclo-cross world.”
Pidcock started the ‘cross season strong with a podium in Herentals and a victory in the Namur World Cup in mid-December, and overcame a previous illness set him back before the December 8 Antwerp World Cup. After two podiums in Gavere and Diegem, Pidcock crashed and finished 25th in the World Cup in Hulst before his off-day on New Year’s Day.
The ‘cross peloton will also be missing Eli Iserbyt (Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal), who ended up in the hospital after an intestinal infection caused severe dehydration. He will lose his second place in the X2O Trophy classification but hopes to recover in order to compete in the Zonhoven World Cup on Sunday to defend his lead in the series.