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The reigning world champion posted one of his best rides yet in this season’s clash of the “Big Three,” finishing ahead of third-place Mathieu van der Poel, and just a few seconds behind Van Aert.
Pidcock was leading out Van Aert until his Belgian rival came around him heading into the final two bridges. Van Aert opened a small gap over the final obstacle, and barreled home the winner.
“The last time I went over him, I was a bit complacent, and I had the lead until the final stairs. Wout came past me on that last bit before the final bridge,” Pidcock said Wednesday evening. “At that point, I was never going to beat him. He ran up and was back on his bike before I even looked up.”
It went right down to the wire, with Van Aert edging out the victory in front of a packed crowd.
— INEOS Grenadiers (@INEOSGrenadiers) December 28, 2022
Pidcock is doing his best against the more powerful Van Aert and Van der Poel, and came closest to victory Wednesday when he was able to match Van Aert deep into the race after Van der Poel was gapped.
“Honestly this was the easiest race from the last three,” Pidcock said. “Only a few climbs we went full. On the climbs, there was a headwind, and when we were together, we were looking at each other. It was a shame I couldn’t pull it off.”
Pidcock fared better in the sand sectors Wednesday than in any race this season, and he said that was thanks to closely watching the women’s race before hand.
“In practice, I rode the right side every lap,” he said. “I saw all the women riding on the left side, and it was less deep, and it paid off because I rode the sand pretty good today.”
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Pidcock will rest up after what’s been an intense and busy cyclocross season, with 11 races packed across five weeks. He’s won twice — at Kortrik and Boom — and hit the podium in five other races.
“I got a new sauna. I haven’t used it yet,” he said with a laugh.
Pidcock will race three more times across the Christmas block and again at the Benidorm World Cup stop on January 22.
Pidcock remains uncommitted on whether or not he will defend his cyclocross world title on February 5.