Sven Nys says Tom Pidcock skipping cyclo-cross World title defence ‘makes sense’

‘An effort to win in Hoogerheide will cost so much’ says Belgian cyclocross legend on a course that favours Pidcock's rivals

Tom Pidcock
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Belgian cyclo-cross legend Sven Nys has said that he understands the decision making behind cyclo-cross World Champion Tom Pidcock skipping the upcoming worlds in the Netherlands.

Both reigning champions Pidcock and Marianne Vos will sit out the competition in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands. Vos will miss out due to injury whereas Pidcock is skipping the event to prepare for the start of the fast-approaching spring classics on the road. A decision which Nys has said “makes sense”. 

Speaking to Cycling Weekly, Nys explained that he believes the course in Hoogerheide does not favour a rider with the physiology of Pidcock, and that it would take a gargantuan effort to beat both Mathieu van der Poel and Wout Van Aert, something which could prove costly later in the season. 

“I understand the decision completely,” Nys said. “With how he’s preparing his road season, he needs to make a decision early. Also he [Pidcock] will know that on that course in Hoogerheide, it’s not easy to win against Wout and Mathieu. 

"If he sees maybe in one, two, three years a course that suits him really well, then he might take the decision to ride the World Championships again. 

“Doing an effort in Hoogerheide to maybe become World Champion will cost so much energy, so it could then impact something for him in April or May. That’s why he’s taken this decision to not go, it’s the same as Wout did last year in the US.”

With the way the elite men’s race is likely to play out in the Netherlands, Nys explained that “raw power”, an attribute possessed by both Van Aert and Van der Poel, will be what's needed to land the world title.

“That’s the difficulty when you mix different disciplines. In a certain moment you have to make decisions and think about what are my goals? And what can I do against my competitors? Pidcock is a rider who has a weight below 60 kilos, so on a course like Hoogerheide, it’s then not easy to win against Wout and Mathieu who weigh above 75 and have the raw power,” Nys added.

“If we had a different course with a lot of climbing then Pidcock would for sure be there.”

Away from his day job and work with the Baloise Trek Lions team, Nys has worked in collaboration with former pro Mitch Docker and GCN on a new film “There will be Mud”. In the film, Nys and current professionals Shirin van Anrooij and Puck Pieterse work with Docker as he heads to Belgium and gets set to tackle his first ever cyclocross race. 

Nys told Cycling Weekly that seeing Docker pick up his new cyclocross skillset was “something really special.”

“We know that Mitch is an athlete. He knows how he needs to win races and how to prepare himself for road cycling. But bringing him into cyclocross and talking about all the details, when to jump on and off the bike, the tactics, the acceleration, shifting on the right moment, were all things that were so new to him,” Nys said.

“It’s really exciting that he loved it, also that he made improvements really quickly after we talked about all those things. Then when he went to a race and was involved, he enjoyed the atmosphere around the course which was really nice to see,” he added.

“It’s really difficult to explain to people what cyclocross is about if you don’t do it yourself although Mitch is one of the guys now who's been there and tested it himself and explored it really well.”

There Will Be Mud is available exclusively on GCN+ from tomorrow, and can be watched via the GCN+ App, all web browsers, and smart TVs. A subscription includes access to more than 150 original and exclusive full-length documentaries, as well as live and on demand racing coverage, analysis and highlights.

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Tom Thewlis

Tom is a News and Features Writer at Cycling Weekly, and previously worked in communications at Oxford Brookes University. He has reported from a wide range of races and events including the Tour de France and World Championships.