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Cyclocross

Cyclocross: Tom Pidcock hits peak heart rate in sandy quagmire at Mol

Pidcock on sandy podium at Zilvermeercross: 'It will always be difficult for me in the sand. I train on it, but I'm not getting any better at it.'

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Tom Pidcock knows he will be out-gunned by Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel on pure-power cyclocross courses, and Friday’s sand-riddled race at Mol confirmed that.

Pidcock could only play a bit role in the otherwise dramatic tug-of-war between Van Aert and Van der Poel in the sandbox that is the famed Zilvermeercross course in Mol.

Pidcock is no fan of sand, and Mol’s bunker-riddled course saw Van Aert finally snap the elastic to Van der Poel to take the dramatic victory for pre-CX worlds bragging rights.

“It will always be difficult for me in the sand. I train on it, but I’m not getting any better at it,” Pidcock told Het Nieuwsblad. “It doesn’t seem to help. I was looking for my rhythm, but that was obviously not the rhythm of Wout and Mathieu.”

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The featherweight Pidcock did come away with a confidence-bolstering podium in the season’s second clash of the “Big Three” on the men’s cyclocross circuit.

The Ineos Grenadiers star, who remains uncommitted about defending his stripes in early February, takes the long view on Friday’s takeaways.

“I felt very fresh and that’s a good thing after a training camp,” Pidcock said. “I even reached my highest heart rate of this cyclocross season.”

Pidcock, 23, was still satisfied Friday at Mol to hit his second-straight third-place podium, and rolls into a busy holiday racing period with more optimism on courses that he knows will suit him better.

“I am happy with my third place on this course. I was able to beat Sweeck and Hermans, who went very well in the end,” Pidcock said.

“The lap in which I had to release was not a good lap, as was the next one. My first three laps were good, in the end I was good, but not in between,” he said. “The intention was to work here on the form for the next races and I can be satisfied in that respect. So yes, I have gained confidence.”

Pidcock was happy to hit the podium on the unfavorable sandy Mol course. (Photo: JASPER JACOBS/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)