While the Eurosport commentators gave everyone watching at home a minor heart attack in the closing kilometres of the 2021 Amstel Gold Race, mistakenly believing the chasing group behind Tom Pidcock and Wout van Aert had been led off the route, tangible drama followed to provide a crescendo to the modified edition of the Amstel Gold Race.
Wout van Aert had opened his sprint from the front, sensing Max Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) was about to launch from third wheel, with Tom Pidcock reacting and pulling up alongside the Jumbo-Visma rider, forcing a photo finish.
It took some time, however, to get the official confirmation through, and in the most cycling way possible as TV cameras eventually found a UCI official who showed us a screenshot of the photo finish on his phone screen.
Pidcock had looked imperious once more, having only been racing in the WorldTour for less than two months, pedaling effortlessly and stretching his more mature rivals with impunity on the hilly circuit just outside of Valkenburg.
In the end the 21-year-old was left to rue what could have been, however, saying he was faster than Van Aert but that he should have started his sprint earlier, getting the jump on his rival rather than reacting to the Belgian’s move.
“I should have started first because I was faster,” Pidcock told NOS after the finish. “That is a great learning moment.
“I gave Wout a small gap for the sprint, but we were too close to the finish. I was too far behind him and should have stayed in his wheel.”
Van Aert had exacted his revenge after Pidcock pipped him at De Brabantse Pijl earlier in the week, but the young Brit was pleased with his performance overall, regardless of the final result.
“I did ride a good race,” Pidcock concluded. “I think I was the strongest in the race and I am happy with that feeling. But it’s frustrating that the difference is so small.
“We thought I had won because someone cheered for me. Then they said in my ear that it was not clear. Of course, I would have liked to win…”
Pidcock will next line up at Flèche Wallonne on Wednesday, while Wout van Aert will end his spring Classics campaign, his next race slated to be the Critérium du Dauphiné.