Thomas Pidcock (Inios Grenadiers) won his second consecutive XCO World Cup on Sunday in the Czech Republic’s Nove Mesto Na Morave. Despite not taking part in the first round, the Olympic champion moved to second place in the overall standings after three events.
Vlad Daskalu (Trek Factory) finished just behind Britain, with world champion and World Cup leader Nino Schuerter (Scott-SRAM) in third place after a remarkable return from a mid-race puncture.
The long, steep climb influences the Nove Mesto course, with the men making a short, 2.7 km start lap and then seven laps on the entire 3.9 km circuit.
Dascalu, looking to win his first World Cup, was charged to the front in the start lap; Pidcock’s start was so slow that he was seen at 15th at the beginning of the first full lap. The Brits have risen to the main climb, joining the leaders at half-point. Towards the end of the second lap, he was joined by Schutter, Daskalu, Filippo Colombo (BMC MTB), Alan Hatherley (Cannondale Factory), and defending World Cup champion Matthias Fluckiger (Thomas Maxon).
The shooter went to the front on Lap 3, setting a solid pace on the climb, expanding the lead group of five after dropping Colombo. On the next lap, the disaster for the shooter came down with a flat. He could break through the hole and get a new wheel, but Pidcock, Daskalu, Fluckiger, and Hatherley – all four leaders – started lapping down at 5 minutes per minute. Anton Cooper (Trek Factory) briefly joined the leaders but was dropped again when the speed increased.
Fortunately for the shooter, the lead group seemed to have lost some motivation, with Pidcock and Dascalu splitting the other two during the climb, as Hathaway eventually caught the crack, leaving three in front. At the start of Lap 6, the shooter leaders were within 26 seconds, then 18 seconds behind the first climb, and they rejoined the lead as soon as they started the last lap.
Daskalu then launches a surprise attack on the first ascent, taking Flickiger with him as Pidcock appears surprised. The British rider and the shooter rejoined the leaders at the top of the climb, and all four were together for the descent before Daskalu attacked again at the beginning of the main climb. Only Pidcock could respond this time, dropping the shooter Flukiger to third place right. Pidcock used his road skills, easily out-sprinting Daskalu, and the two leaders rode together until the final damar.
“It was a tough race,” Pidcock admitted, “and I felt terrible about all the races. I couldn’t push, and I only had one speed. It couldn’t be hard enough to split it. I knew Vlad. There was going to be a super-fast last lap, and I was having problems with my bike … it just wasn’t sounding right.
The shooter leads the series after three rounds with 732 points, but Pidcock is second from seventh, 132 points behind, while Daskalu pushes Hatterly up one place to third.