Tom Pidcock says Belgians made it 'near impossible' for Wout van Aert to win Worlds as Brit rides to impressive sixth

The 21-year-old Brit says the atmosphere in Belgium was 'like a football match'

Tom Pidcock
(Image credit: Getty)

While Tom Pidcock says he played his cards slightly wrong at the Flanders World Championships, a bit of inexperience costing him as well as not being in peak form, and says the home nation made it almost impossible for Belgian favourite Wout van Aert to claim the rainbow jersey.

The Brit finished sixth, not present in the small move that jumped from the group of favourites, from which Julian Alaphilippe successfully defended his world title in stunning fashion.

"Honestly we were proper racing almost all day, 270km of racing, for me to have that in my legs at the end I think that's a pretty good sign I've built really well from the Vuelta. I just played my cards wrong, a bit of inexperience I guess," was Pidcock's honest assessment of a wonderful edition of the men's Worlds road race.

After the Alaphilippe group had stolen a march up the road, Pidcock eventually jumped from the group behind, closing to within 17 seconds of Ineos team-mate Dylan van Baarle and Michael Valgren who took the silver and bronze medals.

>>> Julian Alaphilippe: ‘The Belgian fans asked me to slow down and weren’t very nice - that gave me extra motivation’

"Wout had Jasper [Stuyven] up there, Mathieu had Dylan and the Italians had a guy so it was kind of difficult by myself," Pidcock explained of the predicament when he missed that move. "I should have committed but I feel if I committed then...I wanted one attack," he says of his race plan.

"It didn't work out my way but it was unbelievable racing, it was like we were racing a stadium, not on roads. Chants and singing, it was unreal, it was like a football match."

Tom Pidcock

(Image credit: Getty)

Despite the fantastic spectacle, Pidcock believes the home pressure harmed Van Aert's chances of taking the rainbow jersey.

"They kind of shot themselves in the foot with the pressure they put on on their team. I mean [the team] did an unreal job but [Belgian expectations] made it near impossible for Wout to win. If he'd won it would’ve been the best ride ever, let's face it."

Pidcock's candidness is invigorating and he says while his form isn't perfect today's sixth place was primarily down to tactics and that it's a lesson for the future. While he's mostly happy with his ride, he says the only position that matters is who crosses the line first.

"Peaking for the Olympics and this...that's the biggest thing you know," he says of what held him back today. "I was 100 per cent for the Olympics, took a bit of downtime [after], tried to build up for this, but I wasn't quite 100 per cent I would say...but I think mainly it was more tactics today.

"World Champs is about one place and that's getting a rainbow jersey," he continued. "No one's going to remember who was second and third today, it doesn't matter. Yeah, it's nice getting a medal but in the next year, two years, no one knows who was second but people will know Alaphilippe is the double world champion."

Jonny Long

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.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.