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Tom Pidcock wheelied across the line taking his first mountain bike win since a gold medal performance at the Olympic games in Tokyo. The Ineos Grenadiers rider, adorned in an iconic Red Bull helmet, put in a blistering mid-race attack that none of the other contenders could follow.
World Champion Nino Schurter rolled across in second followed by Romanian Vlad Dascalu. The race got off to a fast start with Luca Schwarzbauer taking the holeshot in front of a home- country German crowd. Schurter and his rival Henrique Avancini were already riding aggressively on the first lap, trading the lead and fighting for every inch of singletrack.
Schurter was able to naturally gain time on the descents, including on a tight switchback B-line.
“It’s part of the race to really use your practice and see all the lines, which ones are fastest, and use them properly in the race,” the Swissman said of his technical line choice.
The second lap saw last year’s World Cup overall winner Mathias Flückiger take a turn on the front, but his time in the mix would later come to a disappointing end with a flat tire.
On lap three of six, as the leaders came upon one of the steepest climbs of the notoriously hilly Albstadt course, Pidcock launched an attack, showing off his form that has been honed on the
twisting roads of Belgium this classics season.
“Well I guess I found myself on the front,” Pidcock said after he crossed the line. “They set off really fast in the first few laps, like really, but then we were going super easy and kind of
keeping it together. Nino was pushing really hard on the descents. I just thought I would test the water a little bit and see where everyone was really at.”
Schurter and Flückiger gave chase, but Pidcock immediately opened a ten second gap that grew to 20 seconds by the time he passed through the start/finish area. Titouan Carod and Alan
Hatherly, the winner of the short track race at the first World Cup round in Petropolis, Brazil, were also in the chase group.
“It was an impressive attack and I just couldn’t go with him,” Schurter said of Pidcock’s performance. “So I quickly realized I need to race for second and managed well to find a good
pace in this group and get a second place.”
From there, the race felt like a foregone conclusion, but the battle was still on for the remaining podium spots. Dascalu made his way back to the other chasers after stopping in the tech zone
to fix a mechanical issue with his seatpost and followed Schurter’s last lap attacks.
“For sure the shape is there,” Dascalu, who also podiumed in Brazil, said after the race, vowing to keep patient and keep chasing a World Cup win.
Carod came in fourth, and Olympic bronze medalist David Valero Serrano snuck in for a fifth place finish
Pidcock said after the race that his top-end mountain bike form is not at the same level as last year yet.
“It was hard,” he said. “I mean I haven’t ridden my mountain bike so much. It’s a different sort of effort. Those climbs, being able to do repeatedly, go really deep and recover. That was not
where it was last year in Nové Město and the Olympics.”
Pidcock opted for a wheelie across the line instead of the superman pose he chose when he won the cyclocross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas this winter. Pidcock will race
next week in Nové Město and mentioned after the race that he will target the European Championships and World Championships this year.
“I want to win the world title,” he said. “Maybe the Euros as well since I think I’m going to ride there, as well.”