Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) expects his form to continue to improve heading into the UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas, January 28-31.
Pidcock is one of the main contenders in what he thinks will be a “good fight” for the rainbow jersey next weekend.
“My condition will be good next week. It will be a hard and fast race and a good battle. Everybody has a chance, it’s going to be interesting next week,” said Pidcock.
An Olympic gold medalist in the cross-country mountain bike discipline, Pidcock had a strong season finishing on the podium in five of the six UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup rounds he started and winning the rounds of Rucphen and Hulst.
With the absence of Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) and Wout Van Aert (Belgium), Pidcock will face a series of contenders from the Belgian and Dutch teams.
Beglium is sending a team of eight riders which includes UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup winner Eli Iserbyt, Quinten Hermans, Toon Aerts, Michael Vanthourenhout, Jens Adams, Vincent Baestaens, Daan Soete and Laurens Sweeck. The Dutch team will field two riders with European champion Lars van de Haar and Corné van Kessel.
“There’s a lot of people who can win next week. The course is pretty similar and it’s going to be a good race,” Pidcock said of the Worlds-designed circuit at Centennial Park.
In this weekend’s races, a last-lap crash put Pidcock out of contention for victory and he finished fifth in the X2O Badkamers Flandriencross at Hamme on Saturday, behind winner Sweeck, Aerts, Iserbyt and van der Haar.
In Sunday’s final UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup at Hoogerheide, Pidcock finished third behind Iserbyt and van der Haar, having led for much of the midsection of the race alone. Although Pidcock was able to respond to Iserbyt’s attack in the closing stages of the race, he was ultimately not strong enough to close the gap for the win.
Iserbyt had enough to take his 14th win of the season at Hoogerheide two seconds behind van der Haar, who sprinted past Pidcock in third.
“I think maybe I burned a few games too many. It was quite difficult for me up front. They were making mistakes but that meant someone new was up front all the time. I didn’t have enough of a gap for the rubber band to break. I was a little complacent, and Eli [Iserbyt] a bit of a gap,” Pidcock said of the race at Hoogerheide.
“It’s not the end of the world. It’s not exactly what I was hoping for but there’s time to recover a bit this week and it’s all to play for next week.”
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