UCI World Championships: Tom Pidcock takes the cross-country mountain bike title in Glentress

Sam Gaze comes from behind to take second, whilst Nino Schurter takes the bronze for his 13th cross-country medal

Clock17:00, Saturday 12th August 2023
With a third-place finish in the short track followed by the gold medal on the XCO course, it has been an eventful few days for Tom Pidcock

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

With a third-place finish in the short track followed by the gold medal on the XCO course, it has been an eventful few days for Tom Pidcock

Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) won the UCI World Championships men’s cross-country event at Glentress on Sunday, in what was billed as one of the most anticipated XCO races of the year.

Pidcock managed to break away from the reigning world champion Nino Schurter (Switzerland) and hold off a charging Sam Gaze (New Zealand) to win his first mountain bike rainbow jersey.

Gaze ended up coming closest to the British cycling polymath for the silver medal, while multiple-time world champion Schurter had to settle for the bronze.

“It's a massive relief,” Pidcock said about his race after the finish. “As soon as I attacked my rear mech was loose, my gears were jumping all over the place. I didn't know whether I needed to stop and tighten it. I just thought my race could be over at any point.”

“The first five laps were super fast. It was tough to come back from where I was. It was a super hard race, but after last year I know that the World Championship is another level from the World Cups.”

Pidcock was one of two major road stars who were vying for a top result on the dirt at the Glasgow ‘super Worlds.’ The second rider was none other than Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands). Fresh off of his road World Championship win, Van der Poel was trying to do something that only Pauline Ferrand-Prevot has been able to accomplish in either men’s or women’s cycling: world titles in cyclo-cross, road and mountain bikes concurrently.

To add to the intrigue leading into the race, Pidcock, Van der Poel and Peter Sagan (Slovenia) were all bumped up to starting on the fifth row, despite not having the mountain bike results that would normally grant riders a spot that far up the grid. With the nature of a course built around singletrack features, this was a huge comparative advantage for the road riders and caused much consternation in the lead into the race.

Yet when the starting lights flashed, the polemic was put aside and replaced by full-on racing in the Glentress Forest and before the race made it away from the shortened starting lap it had already lost one of its big potential players. Van der Poel crashed rounding an innocuous turn not three minutes into the race and was out with a bloodied knee.

Nonetheless, the race rolled on and quickly the contenders sorted themselves at the front of affairs, with Schurter playing a large role in driving the pace. By the end of the third lap, only three riders were left with the Swiss superstar: Alan Hatherly (South Africa), Jordan Sarrou (France) and Pidcock, who had made his way through the crowd in front of him after the start.

Sarrou, the world champion in 2020 in XCO, was the first to be ejected from the leaders shortly thereafter and the trio left at the head of affairs seemed to match each other. Behind, as Sarrou struggled, Sam Gaze was leading a charge from his own subprime starting position. With him was a rapidly diminishing crew of characters trying to follow the powerful Kiwi. Before long, Gaze and another resurgent short track podium finisher, Victor Koretzky (France) had overtaken Sarrou.

It was not long before Gaze had more detritus in his crosshairs as Hatherly was dropped from the lead under the impetus of Pidcock and Schurter’s constant digs. Finally, even the king of cross-country couldn’t handle Pidcock’s accelerations on the many short punches of Glentress. By the end of lap six, with just two more to go, Pidcock was out front solo and Schurter was noticeably fading back towards the chasing Gaze.

While Gaze’s power kept him within striking distance of Pidcock – and allowed him to overtake Schurter – it was not enough to foil Pidcock from becoming world champion in the mountain bike for the first time in his career. The reigning Olympic champion in the discipline now has a mountain bike rainbow jersey to pair with his cyclo-cross stripes from 2022, as well as his accolades on the road that includes a Tour de France stage win and a Strade Bianche title

Race Results

1

gb flag

PIDCOCK Tom

1H 22' 09"

2

nz flag

GAZE Samuel

+ 19"

3

ch flag

SCHURTER Nino

+ 34"

4

fr flag

KORETZKY Victor

+ 43"

5

ro flag

DASCALU Vlad

+ 54"

6

za flag

HATHERLY Alan

+ 1' 07"

7

it flag

BRAIDOT Luca

+ 1' 41"

8

ch flag

FORSTER Lars

+ 1' 45"

9

de flag

SCHWARZBAUER Luca

+ 1' 52"

10

nz flag

COOPER Anton

+ 1' 53"

Provided by FirstCycling

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