It was nearly a dream weekend for Tom Pidcock as the Brit almost took two UCI Cycloross World Cup wins in as many days.
However, the British champion had to settle for second in Namur on Sunday a mere 24 hours after the first-ever World Cup win for a male British rider as Michael Vanthourenhout crossed the line first, capitalising on Pidcock's crash while in the lead.
Pidcock came into the round in Namur as the favourite, a combination of the absence of both Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel and his victory on Saturday in Rucphen.
The 22-year-old had to patiently work his way through the pack, not at the front of proceedings from the off as Toon Aerts shot off up the road, but steadily he made his way into the chase group behind the Belgian.
Soon, he'd left the likes of Quinten Hermans and Michael Vanthourenhout behind as he went off in pursuit of Aerts alone, who in turn suffered a puncture, letting Pidcock past and into the lead.
But then on the long downhill drag where the Brit had nearly come a cropper earlier, his legs almost concertinaing in on themselves as they tried to keep apace through the mud and over treacherous roots, he fell. Hard.
Picking himself up, Vanthourenhout, who had been doing some patient waiting of his own, took his opportunity and surged into the lead.
Only a few seconds separated the pair, but another fall for Pidcock on a steep downhill corner saw the gap grow, and Vanthourenhout was cautious enough to keep the pace high while incessantly checking over his shoulder to ensure he crossed the line alone and in first place.
Aerts finished in third, 15 seconds adrift of Pidcock, while Quinten Hermans and Eli Iserbyt both drifted in around a minute later to round out the top five.
Thomas Mein and Ben Turner both secured top 20 finishes, the two Brits managing 15th and 19th respectively.
In the elite women's race, Lucinda Brand beat Denise Betsema by 20 seconds to seal the victory, the top five all Dutch riders, in contrast with the men's where Pidcock was the only non-Belgian in the top seven.
UCI Cyclocross World Cup - Namur
1. Michael Vanthourenhout (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal, in 59-28
2. Tom Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers, at 36 seconds
3. Toon Aerts (Bel) Baloise Trek Lions, at 51s
4. Quinten Hermans (Bel) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team, at 1-38
5. Eli Iserbyt (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal, at 2-01
6. Daan Soete (Bel) CX Team Deschacht - Group Hens - Containers Maes, at 2-06
7. Laurens Sweeck (Bel) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal, at 2-15
8. Corné van Kessel (Ned) Tormans Cyclo Cross Team, at 2-40
9. Joshua Dubau (Fra) Team Peltrax, at 2-44
10. Timon Rüegg (Sui) Cross team Legendre, at 2-46
1. Lucinda Brand (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions, in 53-07
2. Denise Betsema (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal, at 20 seconds
3. Puck Pieterse (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, at 1-16
4. Fem van Empel (Ned) Pauwels Sauzen - Bingoal, at 1-31
5. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, at 1-34
6. Hélène Clauzel (Fra) A.S Bike Crossteam, at 1-41
7. Inge van der Heijden (Ned) 777, at 1-49
8. Shirin van Anrooij (Ned) Baloise Trek Lions, at 1-53
9. Silvia Persico (Ita) FAS Airport Services, at 1-54
10. Maghalie Rochette (Can) Specialized/Feedback Sports, at 1-56
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.
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