Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel led from start to finish to claim his third elite men’s world title, retaining the rainbow jersey he won last year with a display of utter dominance.
But the performance of West Yorkshire’s Pidcock was arguably just as eye-catching as he rode away from a chase group to earn a superb second place – the first time a British elite rider has claimed a podium in a cyclo-cross world championships.
“I’m second-best in the world of cyclo-cross today,” said Pidcock after the race. “I would say I’m second-best in the world but sometimes I’m not.
“It’s unreal. Mathieu is one of the best riders in the world. I was second to him today. That’s incredible. I stepped up to the elite’s this season. I could’ve made it an easy time for myself by racing in the U23s but I’ve come to ride with the elites and I got onto the podium. It’s really pleasing.”
After a solid start from the second row, Pidcock found himself in the chase group with five Belgian riders during the third lap of the race.
“That’s why I wanted to attack – I didn’t think it would be a good place for me to ride against five Belgians overworking me,” Pidcock added.
“It’s strange because I was ill all week. On Tuesday I woke up poorly so I barely rode all week. Maybe that did me good. Maybe I should get ill more often.”
Behind Pidcock, Belgian Toon Aerts profited from a late puncture for triple world champion Wout van Aert to take the final podium spot.
“I think I rode a perfect race,” said winner Van der Poel. “I felt really strong and when I managed to get away on the first lap, that gave me wings.”