Tom Pidcock rode away from the competition Monday afternoon to take the gold medal for Great Britain in the Olympic Games men's mountain bike race. He was followed by Switzerland's Mathias Flückiger and Spain's David Valero Serrano.
The race got off to a fast and furious start, as the field of 38 racers took on a short shart loop before heading ut onto the full circuit in Izu, Japan. World Champion Jordan Sarrou immediately took the lead, but the jostling for position was just getting started.
Henrique Avancini quickly took the lead, with Milan Vader and 2016 Olympic Champion Nino Schurter following. The Brazilian Avancini skipped recent World Cup rounds to train for the Olympics, and it looked like that preparation might pay off.
The drama started early when Mathieu van der Poel sustaining a massive crash off of a rock drop. The Dutchman remained on the ground in visible pain but eventually continued riding. However, he pulled out of the race in the final laps
After the race, Van der Poel said that he wasn't expecting the drop to be mandatory, since there was a ramp placed between the takeoff and landing during training sessions.
"I could ride the track with my eyes closed but I didn't know they would remove this ramp on raceday," he posted on Instagram.
It's been reported that Dutch teammate Vader discussed with feature with Van der Poel, saying that they had removed the ramp during the 2019 test race. Van der Poel went to the hospital for an injured hip.
After the much-talked-about crash, Schurter put on pressure and took the lead as the lead group crossed over the start/finish line. Vader and Avancini followed as Flückiger and Pidcock worked to bridge up to the group.
Soon, the Swiss duo of Schurter and Flückiger would be setting the pace together, with Pidcock closely following. The Briton attempted to attack, but the trio remained together.
Heading into lap 4, Pidcock launched what would become the race-winning move. Flückiger remained within contact distance, but Schurter bled time. Flückiger was getting closer and closer to the leader, but he slipped on a steep, dusty climb and was forced to dismount and run.
At this point, the race for a bronze medal was starting to form. New Zealand's Anton Cooper was riding with Schurter and France's Victor Koretzky. Czech racer Ondrej Cink was also moving up into medal contention, but a flat rear tire ruined his chances. Cameras showed a frustrated Cink making his way back to the pits.
Heading into the final lap, Valero Serrano had moved up into the chase group for third. Meanwhile, Pidcock had put more time into Flückiger.
As Pidcock entered the finish straight, he grabbed the Union Jack, flying it over his head as he crossed the line with a 20-second advantage.
“It’s pretty crazy that I became an Olympian and I was trying to tell myself at the start of the race it’s special just to be here," Pidcock said at the finish.
He noted that he hadn't had a good result since breaking his collarbone in June.
“I haven’t done a good race since. I’ve trained really hard, I knew I was in great shape but there’s always doubt when I haven’t performed in a race. But once the race started, I knew I was in a good place. The heat, I mean, obviously I didn’t feel good but everyone just told me no-one will feel good.”
"I gave everything and I am really happy that I could deliver a strong performance today and win the silver medal," wrote Flückiger.
Valero Serrano's bronze medal performance was a surprise result. The Spaniard's best World Cup result this season was 50th, but the smaller field size at the Olympics could have given him an advantage since start grid position wasn't as critical.
Schurter, who has stood on the podium at the past three Olympics, came in fourth, while Koretzy was fifth, followed by the kiwi Cooper.
South Africa's Alan Hatherly put in an impressive ride for eight, with World Champion Sarrou behind him in ninth.
After leading early on in the race, Avancini fell back to finish in 13th, ahead of America's Christopher Blevins who finished 14th in his debut Olympic Games.
The women's mountain bike race starts at 3pm local time Tuesday. High winds and rain are expected to make the course even more challenging.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Tom Pidcock (GBR)||1:25:14|
|2||Mathias Flückiger (Swi)||0:00:20|
|3||David Valero Serrano (Esp)||0:00:34|
|4||Nino Schurter (Swi)||0:00:42|
|5||Victor Koretzky (Fra)||0:00:46|
|6||Anton Cooper (NZl)|
|7||Vlad Dascalu (Rom)||0:00:49|
|8||Alan Hatherly (RSA)||0:01:19|
|9||Jordan Sarrou (Fra)||0:01:36|
|10||Milan Vader (Ned)||0:02:07|
|11||Anton Sintsov (ROC)||0:02:27|
|12||Filippo Colombo (Swi)||0:02:50|
|13||Henrique Avancini (Bra)||0:02:55|
|14||Christophe Blevins (USA)||0:02:59|
|15||Jofre Cullell Estape (Esp)||0:03:02|
|16||Martin Vidaurre Kossmann (Chi)||0:03:19|
|17||Maximilian Foidl (Aut)||0:03:31|
|18||Jens Schuermans (Bel)||0:03:53|
|19||Bartlomiej Wawak (Pol)||0:03:56|
|20||Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Ita)||0:04:34|
|21||Maximilian Brandl (Ger)||0:04:35|
|22||Sebastian Fini Carstensen (Den)||0:05:14|
|23||Jose Gerardo Ulloa Arevalo (Mex)||0:05:43|
|24||Erik Haegstad (Nor)||0:06:00|
|25||Luca Braidot (Ita)||0:06:16|
|26||Peter Disera (Can)||0:06:31|
|27||Luiz Henrique Cocuzzi (Bra)||0:07:07|
|28||Manuel Fumic (Ger)||0:07:14|
|29||Kohei Yamamoto (Jpn)||0:07:21|
|30||Daniel McConnell (Aus)||0:07:58|
|31||Alex Miller (Nam)||0:09:12|
|32||Andras Parti (Hun)||0:10:19|
|33||Schlomi Haimy (Isr)||0:11:44|
|34||Nadir Colledani (Ita)||1 lap|
|35||Periklis Iliias (Gre)||3 laps|
|36||Peng Zhang (Chn)||3 laps|
|DNF||Ondrej Cink (Cze)|
|DNF||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned)|