Tom Pidcock, at age 21, triumphed on a difficult new course at Izu to win the men’s mountain bike race at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. This is the first Olympic medal for the United Kingdom in this sport.
Mountain Biking Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Tom Pidcock Win Bike Race
His time of 1:25:14 was 20 seconds faster than Mathias Flückiger (SUI) and 34 seconds faster than David Valero Serrano (ESP) over the course of the seven-lap race. In his fourth Olympic Games, Nino Schurter, the 2016 Olympic Champion, finished a disappointing fourth.
“I’ve trained very, very hard; I thought I was in excellent shape; but there’s always doubt when I haven’t performed well in a race. I knew I was in good shape once the race got going,” Pidcock added.
Only 38 cyclists, a significantly fewer number than at UCI World Cups, braved the dry, scorching conditions for the mass start. Even though only Switzerland and Italy had three riders each, the field was nonetheless filled with competitors from all over the world and all walks of riding life.
UCI World Champion Jordan Sarrou (FRA) led into the Amagi Pass, its two tight lanes already forcing several riders into their feet, after a 1.2-kilometer start loop that saw strong activity from Mathieu Van der Poel (NED) on the second row, Tom Pidcock (GBR) on the fourth row, and others.
Before the Brazilian set the pace for the first of seven full 3.85km loops of the Izu Mountain Bike Course masterfully built by Nick Floros, Milan Vader (NED) led the pack over the bridge and onto the tarmac with Victor Koretzky (FRA), Flückiger, Anton Cooper (NZL), and Henrique Avancini (BRA).
Cooper, Pidcock, Avancini, and Koretzky followed the Swiss Pair, Who were Supported by Carefully Managed Crowds Ringing Swiss Cowbells;
Luca Braidot (ITA), Ondrej Cink (CZE), and Alan Hatherly (RSA) rounded out the top 10.
Pidcock, only a few days shy of his 22nd birthday, momentarily overtook the Swiss duo on lap 2 when they were eating at the technical station, but Flückiger eventually overtook him on the next short hill.
After 30 minutes of riding, the front five (Flückiger, Schurter, Pidcock, Cooper, and Koretzky) started to break away, with the Frenchman progressively feeling the pace and falling back to a following group lead by Cink.
Pidcock, who recently made a full recovery from a broken collarbone sustained in a training collision, and Flückiger, winner of the last two UCI World Cup events, rode cautiously in the final lap to claim gold and silver, respectively, while Valero Serrano of Spain brought home the bronze.
On Tuesday, July 27 at 15:00 JST, the women’s race will get the mountain bike cross-country action going again.