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Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) held a slight gap on van der Poel heading into the sprint finish, but the Dutchman was able to close the gap to Pidcock and surge around him just before the line. The victory was van der Poel’s eighth consecutive short-track win at the World Cup level.
“I didn’t have the best legs today, but I hope to have them on Sunday,” van der Poel said of his race today, and of the coming XCO race in two day’s time. “This course suits me pretty well so I just hoped for a pretty good day.”
The two racers have been racing each other across several disciplines — cyclocross, road, and now MTB — and likely face off later this year at the Olympic Games.
Pidcock lead through the second lap, but trailing closely were Jordan Sarrou (FRA) — the reigning world champion — and Nino Schurter (SUI).
As laps ticked by, it was Sarrou who took up the lead on the penultimate lap, Four-time world cyclocross champion van der Poel was racing within on the limit, but was able to push into the lead on a singletrack section of the course.
The three — with Victor Koretzky (FRA) and Maximillian Brandl (GER) — had a small gap to a chase group, with Pidcock and Sarrou shadowing van der Poel who lead into the final, muddy lap.
With the advantage of being on the front in the singletrack sector, van der Poel was able to control the pace to suit his abilities and tactics.
Following a momentary breather in pace, van der Poel launched an out of the saddle attack, with only the diminutive Brit able to match the surge and come around van der Poel.
The final meters came to a two-up sprint, navigating the bridge and then downhill at speed, van der Poel bested Pidcock with a bike-stab right at the line.
“I was a little bit annoyed cuz I couldn’t get in my biggest gear, so that’s why I was spinning so fast. I had to change bikes last minute, and the mechanics didn’t have time to check it after my suspension broke,” said Pidcock after a second-place finish his first-ever elite short track event. “I was feeling really good, so I am really happy actually. I was thinking I wouldn’t feel so good compared to the Olympic distance because it’s more explosive, but I think this track suits me quite well with the long climb.”
Nové Město WorldCup cross-country short track results
- Mathieu van der Poel (NED) 20:48
- Thomas Pidcock (GBR) at s.t.
- Jordan Sarrou (FRA) at s.t.