Tom Pidcock wins mountain bike cross-country at World Championships

Tom Pidcock became the first British man to be crowned world mountain bike cross-country champion at the elite level with a dominant victory in the Olympic race at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Glentress Forest.

The 24-year-old rode away from 10-time world champion Nino Schurter with two and a half of the eight laps remaining and soloed to win ahead of Sam Gaze, having the time for a slightly awkward celebration as he crossed the line with a Yorkshire flag wrapped around his face.

Pidcock adds the world mountain bike title to the Olympic crown he took in Tokyo and the cyclo-cross world title he won in 2022, plus achievements on the road that include a Tour de France stage win last year and victory at Strade Bianche this spring.

UCI Cycling World Championships 2023 – Day Ten – Glasgow
As brilliant as he was in the race, Tom Pidcock needs to work on his flag celebration (Tim Goode/PA)

“It feels good,” Pidcock said. “It’s a big relief. It’s been a long week building up to this.

“In front of my home crowd, it’s pretty special. Coming down the final straight, I could finally soak it all in.

“Before that, the last few laps were so stressful. My gears were not working on the last lap, they were jumping on every climb – and Gaze was coming behind. I thought it could all go in the bin at any moment.”

Pidcock made this event a major target in his season, reluctantly skipping last weekend’s road race in order to commit all of his energies.

Mathieu Van Der Poel, who won that road race and then pitched up here, crashed out on the opening circuit.

Pidcock sliced through the field at the start, going from 30th to fifth in the first two laps and then continuing to push on the pace to make sure it would be a very selective battle for the medals.

There was controversy before the race as the UCI adopted World Cup rules to elevate road stars Pidcock, Van Der Poel and Peter Sagan to the fourth row of the grid, rather than further back according to their ranking, with the governing body even admitting the move was because of the “added value” they bring.

That led to several rivals co-signing an open letter condemning the decision, feeding into the narrative that began after Thursday’s short-track race when German Luca Schwarzbauer said Pidcock was not part of the community of “pure mountain bikers” after a late crash between the pair.

Pidcock, who took time out of his Tour build-up to collect UCI points in World Cup races in Novo Mesto in May, said the decision to change the grid was “bulls***”.

“It’s outrageous,” he said. “A rule like that needs to be put in place in January. I sacrificed three weeks of my preparation for the Tour to try and get some points and this week they changed the rule. You can’t do that. It’s not fair.”

Evie Richards settled for sixth in the women’s race as French star Pauline Ferrand-Prevot successfully defender her Olympic title days after also defending her short track crown.

UCI Cycling World Championships 2023 – Day Ten – Glasgow
Evie Richards fought her way to sixth in the women’s race (Tim Goode/PA)

Ferrand-Prevot was effectively in a race of her own, with more than a minute’s cushion over team-mate Loana Lecomte, while Richards – third in Thursday’s short track race – tried to battle Alessandra Keller, Puck Pieterse and Mona Mitterwallner for bronze but faded in the last couple of laps.

““I was tired to start, so I just tried to hang on for dear life after getting a good start,” Richards said. “I pushed as hard as I could and couldn’t stay with that medal – but I gave it all that I could. I think I was still tired from the short track, to be honest.

“I just felt I was really happy that I could push, that I was competitive, I wasn’t off the back – and the crowds were amazing. I feel really lucky that I got to race in front of them today.”