The UK bagged a World Champion’s jersey in the eMTB race in Leogang, Austria, in a race that was a far cry from any ‘race for has-beens’. The winner, Tom Pidcock, is already a dominant force across road, cyclocross and XC disciplines, but adding eMTB champion to his title was no easy task.
As well as a star studded line up on the starting grid, race conditions were suitably epic, with mud and general slop doing a fair amount to dispel any myths about eBikes not being suitable for wet conditions.
The reigning UCI World Champion Alan Hatherly (RSA) was unable to start to defend his rainbow jersey, but the field was strong. Joren Van Eck, an XC Eliminator specialist from the Netherlands, joined Danish XC National Champion 23 year-old Simon Andreassen. As further challenge for Pidcock, cyclo-cross legend Sven Nys, two time cyclo-cross UCI World Champion with 50 UCI World Cup wins to his name joined the starting line up. Definitely a threat, especially when you learn he also has five national mountain bike titles under his belt.
Italy’s Olympic, World and European XCO medalist, Marco Fontana who took fifth place in Mont-Sainte-Anne’s inaugural E-mountain bike UCI World Championships last year was joined by 2019 runner-up Jérôme Gilloux of France. Gilloux put on the early pressure on the first circuit of the 5-lap race, with only 22-year-old Joris Ryf (Switzerland), 43-year-old former road pro Martino Fruet (Italy), Pidcock and Andreassen keeping him in line of sight. Last year’s 4th and 5th place finishers Julien Absalon (France) (yup, that MTB legend too) and Charlie Mullins (USA) were lurking ominously in the top 10. Onto lap 3, UCI ranked no 1 Gilloux had pulled out a 30-second lead, before Pidcock passed Ryf and gradually brought down the gap across lap 4. He hit lap 5 in the lead as Andreassen and Fruet overtook Ryf.
Pidcock’s winning margin was 35 seconds for his, and Great Britain’s first UCI E-mountain bike UCI World Championships title. It was heartbreak for Gilloux, having to accept the second step again, and a continued successful streak for the impressive young Dane Andreassen.
Pidcock was riding a Specialized S-Works Turbo Levo – not the Levo SL that had our Mark so excited earlier this year. Tom still seems to be having plenty of fun on the bigger battery bike option though: