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Cyclocross

Tom Pidcock admits featherweight disadvantage in cyclocross clash with Van Aert, Van der Poel

Cyclocross's "big three" are destined to face off Sunday in Antwerp.

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Tom Pidcock admits his featherweight climber’s profile will prove a disadvantage against looming cyclocross clashes with brawlers Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der  Poel.

Cyclocross’ “big three” are destined to face off Sunday in Antwerp, and Pidcock knows he’ll be challenged to swing above his weight.

“I don’t have the weight and the same power as Mathieu and Wout,” Pidcock told In De Leiderstriu. “It’s hard to beat them in races like this.”

The Ineos Grenadiers star, who already won his first cyclocross race this season in his world champion’s jersey, said he’s close to his road racing optimum weight of under 60kg.

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That’s a big difference in the muddy lanes of cyclocross, where the likes of Van Aert and Van der Poel will both be close to 80kg.

“They have more absolute power, which comes in handy in the mud and in the sand,” said Pidcock’s coach Kurt Bogaerts. “Tom is a lightweight, he is not far from his Tour weight at 58kg.”

Van der Poel got the best of Pidcock in last week’s thrilling race at Hulst, with Pidcock taking an early lead only to break a wheel after a mishap late in the race trying to reel in the winning Van der Poel.

Sunday’s cyclocross World Cup stop at Antwerp will see Van Aert making his highly anticipated cross debut before a run toward to the cyclocross world title in February.

The race will be the first major clash between cyclocross’s leading stars on the men’s circuit. Van der Poel and Van Aert are both targeting Pidcock’s rainbow jersey in February.

Pidcock vowed to do his best against the heavyweight rivals and said he hoped the stripes will help give him an extra gear.

“I don’t have the weight and the same power as those two. It’s hard to beat them in races like this,” he told In De Leiderstriu. “I will also shift the focus to the road. [Weight] has advantages on the road, but disadvantages in the cross. Nevertheless, I will keep trying and the rainbow jersey will help a bit.”

The ‘big three’ will face off Sunday for the first time in 2022-23. (Photo: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)