Tom Pidcock’s near-perfect year has got even better after a fourth win of the season saw him guaranteed to become UCI Cyclo-Cross World Cup U23 overall champion.
The 2017 world junior champion sprinted his way to a thrilling top spot in Zolder, Belgium, emerging victorious in a frantic race which saw four riders bidding for top spot in the very closing stages.
The elite women were also in action, with Nikki Brammeier – riding for Boels-Dolmans – registering a place in the top 15 in what was a high-paced, post-Christmas outing.
Sitting sixth with two laps completed, Pidcock certainly had an enthralling race on his hands on Boxing Day, with the top eight separated by 15 seconds.
Two laps later and the 18-year-old had begun making his move, up to second with world champion Joris Nieuwenhuis alongside him, while home favourite Eli Iserbyt kept them company bidding for a win in familiar surroundings.
It was those three, alongside Adam Toupalik, who kept the pace high heading into the final lap but it was there where Pidcock showed why he had three wins already this season, yet again finding a turn of speed.
He was joined by Iserbyt as the two sprinted for the line but it was the Brit who held on to take a top spot in a Christmas cracker of a race, with both finishing in a time of 51:55.
That ensured a fourth win of the year for Pidcock, and with the four best results counting towards the overall World Cup standings, the 2017 British junior champion will have yet another trophy to add to his collection.
There were no signs of Christmas gluttony in the elite women’s category either, with a fast pace and aggressive mentality maintained from first lap to last.
Among the lead riders was Brammeier, looking to follow up on her strong last outing having finished second behind fellow Brit Evie Richards in Namur.
She was to stay with the front-runners for large portions, though the relentless pace saw her in 11th with one lap left to go.
And that was where Brammeier eventually finished, just a couple of seconds off the top ten, while Helen Wyman came home 27th and Anna Kay 36th - good enough for seventh in the U23 standings.
Fellow U23 riders Emily Wadsworth and Amira Mellor finished the elite race in 46th and 56th places, putting them 14th and 19th in the U23 category.
The day’s first race saw the men’s junior riders strut their stuff, with Ben Tulett within a whisker of a place in the top three.
Tulett had already produced a fine season in and out of Belgium, backing up his strong performances on the cyclo-cross scene with a third place in the Namur World Cup last weekend.
And it looked as though a repeat may come his way but he was just edged off the podium by Niels Vandeputte to finish fourth.
But, finishing just seven seconds off top spot and winner Tomas Kopecky, this was a race that he can’t be too down with as he also picked up 40 points towards his overall World Cup tally.