Mathieu van der Poel beat Tom Pidcock to claim the Nove Mesto round of the UCI MTB World Cup in the Czech Republic.
After a whittling down process as the laps progressed, it was eventually decided by a sprint finish, with Pidcock opening his dash for the line first in the final few hundred metres before Van der Poel overtook him at the last to win by a bike length.
Frenchman Jordan Sarrou rounded out the podium while world number one Nino Schurter finished outside the top 10.
“It was a typical short track lap with a few technical passages and single tracks. But I like that," Van der Poel said afterwards. “I have known Tom [Pidcock] for longer than today and know how strong he is and what he is capable of."
Van der Poel revealed that he unclipped just before the finale, but managed to compose himself just in time.
"Just before we wanted to start the sprint, I shot out of my pedal and had to find it again. That slowed me down. I am glad that I get over it just in time. ”
As for Pidcock, he felt he was hampered by not only being forced into a bike change just before the start but then not being able to get into his biggest gear for the sprint.
"I'm a little bit annoyed as I couldn't get in my biggest gear so that's why I was spinning so fast, I had to change bikes just before the start as well because my suspension broke. But yeah I was feeling really good.
"I was thinking I wouldn't feel so good in this compared to the Olympic distance because it's really explosive but I did."
Pidcock is taken these growing pains in his stride, though, and trusts in himself and the team to keep progressing.
"If we didn't have any problems it would be abnormal. I'm relatively inexperienced and so is the team. Hopefully, someday, we can get it all right."
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