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Tom Pidcock flies over barriers in “stupid crash” while leading cyclocross race

The world champion was forced to settle for third place at the GP Sven Nys behind winner Eli Iserbyt after misjudging the course’s fast pump track section

2023 hasn’t exactly got off to the best start for Tom Pidcock. The world cyclocross champion, who has been in impressive form throughout the sport’s busy festive period, looked on course for a comfortable win at the GP Sven Nys this afternoon – until the final lap, however, when a lapse in judgement on the circuit’s fast pump track section sent him flying over the barriers and into the crowd.

The 23-year-old Ineos Grenadiers rider had forged clear of the Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal duo Eli Iserbyt and Michael Vanthourenhout three laps into the first race of the year in the Belgian village of Baal, and entered the final lap 12 seconds ahead of the chasing Belgian pair.

However, while trying to keep the pace high on the final lap of the hilly and muddy course, Pidcock entered the fast pump track section with perhaps a touch too much speed. After catching air on the penultimate berm, the world champion lost control of his bike on the final one, where he apparently hit a rut which caused him to careen into and over the barriers.

The crash – which left the Yorkshireman with bruising and a nasty looking gash on his left leg – took the wind out of Pidcock’s sails and, despite a brief flurry to initially follow the passing Belgians, he was forced to settle for a despondent third in the end, behind winner Iserbyt.

“I’m a little bit shaken. It was a bit of a stupid crash,” Pidcock said after the race. “I hope it was on TV at least.

“I went down [the pump track section] the same as every other lap. I was not feeling very good today but I wanted to try and make a fast last lap, so I was trying to go a little bit faster everywhere.

“Obviously, this is a dangerous section so it’s not the best idea. Sometimes when you’re going that fast it’s easier to jump than stay on the floor, but I wasn’t being stupid or anything. I was thinking about doing a whip, but I thought ‘maybe not’.

“My leg is pretty bruised now – the cut is not the problem, it’s the bruise underneath. I’ll see how it is later.”

Tom Pidcock crashes during GP Sven Nys (GCN)

The extent to which Pidcock’s injuries will impact the rest of his ‘cross season and his preparations for the spring’s road classics is currently unknown, although the world champion – who has been an impressive and ever present force at the front of this winter’s cyclocross campaign alongside the other members of the ‘big three’, Wout van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel – confirmed (as expected) that he will not defend his rainbow jersey in Hoogerheide next month.

Speaking to Sporza during the race, Ineos coach Kurt Bogaert announced that his rider will skip the cyclocross worlds to focus on a “good campaign” in the cobbled one-day races on the road.

“To be honest I knew for a while that I wouldn’t be riding,” Pidcock said when asked about Bogaert’s announcement. “That was a decision made quite a while ago.”

Ryan joined as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.

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