After Tom Pidcock’s dominant performance at the UCI XCO World Cup in Albstadt, mountain bike fans anticipated a battle of cycling’s two greatest all-rounders this season.
With immense abilities in road, cyclocross and mountain bike racing, Tom Pidcock and Mathieu Van Der Poel make a terrific rivalry. But since Pidcock won gold at the Tokyo Olympics, the two have not met as often as fans would like – especially at mountain bike events.
The Tokyo Olympics was an unhappy time for Van der Poel. He was expected to be a strong medal contender but crashed severely, injuring his lower back. This injury has blunted some of the Dutch cycling superstar’s potential for the last year.
All about the road bike - for now
Recovered and racing at the Giro D'Italia, Van der Poel appears to have regained much of his form. But his focus this season will be on cycling’s Grand Tours, instead of mountain bike events.
Following the Giro D'Italia, van der Poel will be riding the Tour de France, before starting his preparations for the UCI road bike World Championships, in Australia, during springtime.
A committed Grand Tour and road racing schedule leave little room for UCI XCO World Cup mountain bike events. This is a pity, as any mountain bike race featuring Van der Poel and Pidcock, is possibly the most exciting rivalry in all of cycling.
Van der Poel has a point to prove, and his awful experience at the Tokyo Olympics will undoubtedly motivate him for the Paris Games in 2024. And that will mean a lot of mountain bike racing, next year.