Tom Pidcock soared to European gold in Munich after a sensational ride that saw him crowned the first ever men’s cross-country mountain bike European champion from Great Britain.
Fresh off the road with his team Ineos Grenadiers, Pidcock queued up to just his fourth mountain bike race of the year, starting back in 34th place at Olympiapark, Munich.
Pidcock started the race nowhere near the front in the first lap of eight of the 4.3km course, with the German and Swiss riders pushing on the pace early on.
Olympic gold medallist Pidcock remained within the main group, and just slowly picked off riders one by one, moving up to 22nd position going into the second lap.
Groups started to form as the pace increased, and Pidcock made it into the second group to sit in 13th place before catching the front group and turning on the heat to be in seventh on lap three.
But it was lap four where Pidcock finally unleashed his speed, attacking up the inside of one of the grassy hills, and storming to the front.
Coming into lap five, Pidcock was throwing his bike from side to side, trying to lose Swiss rider Filippo Colombo and Victor Koretzky of France, and eventually managed to shake them with attacks that they could not hold.
Pidcock then ran away with it, showing his endurance that earned him a stage win on the Tour de France earlier this year, and was 24 seconds up on the chasing group on lap six, which included Colombo and fellow Swiss rider Vital Albin, Koretzky, and Danish rider Sebastian Carstensen.
The 23-year-old kept the pace consistent, even throwing in a few tricks, and maintained a 26 second gap as he took the bell for the final lap.
Accelerating up the Munich Mamba twisty climb, Pidcock made it look easy, while the chasing group was reduced to three with Carstensen, Colombo, and Koretzky battling for the medal places.
Pidcock came home to make history as the first British man to win a European title in the cross-country mountain bike – his capabilities across all disciplines unrivalled.
The chasing trio sprinted for the line, with Carstensen taking the silver, and Colombo finishing in third.
Great Britain’s Cameron Orr had a brilliantly strong ride to finish in 12th place.
“It’s certainly a good indication [for the Mountain Bike World Championships next week]. Maybe it was a little bit early – it’s quite hard out front on your own. The idea was to make it hard for myself because next week is the big goal. Good day, I think. It was super nice racing out in front of these crowds as well – the crowds were fantastic.
“Switching back again [from the road], it’s not so bad. I had a pretty good base in the Tour, a bit of high intensity, so who knows. It’s going to be a long season, but I’m going to try my best to be in top shape next week and then in a month and a half’s time [for the Road World Championships] as well.”
Tomorrow will see Great Britain’s Isla Short take to the course in Munich in the women’s race.
Read more about the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships next week here.