Great Britain's Tom Pidcock has done exactly what he said he would: won the Olympic gold medal after an amazing domination at arduous Izu MTB Park course.
Tom Pidcock has won the Tokyo Olympic mountain biking event with a dauntingly impressive display of power, composure and bike handling.
Olympic mountain biking men’s results
- Tom Pidcock: 1:25:14
- Mathias Fluekiger: +20
- David Valero Serrano: +34
- Nino Schurter: 42+
- Victor Koretsky: 46
Speaking to Europsort, Pidcock detailed how it felt to be Olympic champion: “Not real really! 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.”
Referencing his broken collar bone injury earlier in the season Pidcock went on: “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.”
Pidcock has won the MTB Olympic event. And it didn’t even seem to be that difficult for him to do. For a rider who could have not even have qualified for this event, it was a stunning performance. Until Pidcock’s win at the Nove Mesto World Cup XC round back in May, combined with a few more spaces being made available in the Olympic MTB event, he wasn’t even going to be at Toyko at all. In the end though, Pidcock was in Tokyo and, truth be told, it didn’t even look like there was anyone else who was going to win today. From the third lap onward the race was Pidcock’s to lose.
Pidcock started on the grid back in the fourth row (he was no.29 race plate) but quickly stormed into the top ten places by the mid-point of the opening 1.6km pre-lap. The Olympic pack was much smaller than a typical World Cup field (which can have over 100 racers) but it was still a wild and packed opening leg that saw plenty of elbows-out argy-bargy and racers bunching up, getting off their bike and running up in a crowd – and a cloud of dust.
Despite the course being very technically demanding both uphill and downhill – and the dusty loose conditions – it was a race where Pidcock showed no fear and trepidation.
The race was 7 laps of a 3.85km lap and Pidcock was part of a leading bunch compromising a who’s who of XC mountain biking. Schurter was there. Fluekiger was there. Cooper and even Mathieu Van Der Poel was in the mix. Well, until he went spectacularly over the bars and rolled into the undergrowth after misjudging a rocky section (Sakura Drop) of the fantastically challenging course in Tokyo. It was reminiscent of fellow road racing star Peter Sagan’s disappointing attempt at the previous MTB Olympic event in Rio in 2016 (although Sagan suffered with a puncture rather than a crash).
For the first three laps it was Nino Schurter who looked to be bossing things but mid-way through the third lap was when Pidcock (who had watched Schurter at London 2012 Olympics back when Pidcock was only 11 years old) made his move and stormed from third place up into the first place.
Pidcock then possibly performed a bit of road racing-style gamemanship by ‘allowing’ Schurter and co to retake the lead at the end of the fourth lap. During this overtake Pidcock could be seen ‘eyeballing’ his rivals; really inspecting their form and physical state. Pidcock clearly liked what he saw and promptly stomped on the pedals to retake the lead and then – somewhat unbelievably – open up a gap over his chasers.
Another tactical note was Pidcock’s hydration routine; he only had a bottle during the feedzone. He grabbed, drank and ditched it before exiting the pits. He carried no bottle on his bike for the actual race course, presumably allowing him to be fully focussed on racing his BMC Fourstroke with SR Suntour fork as fast as possible around the hugely demanding Izu MTB Park course. Pidcock races XC on a BMC because his actual race team (Pinarello) don’t make mountain bikes. The bike in question is a 100mm travel full-suspension BMC Fourstroke 01 ONE albeit one with some component changes – and the logos removed. Pidcock appeared to be using Syncros Silverton SL wheels, a Syncros Fraser iC SL one-piece stem and bar combo, Continental X King tyres, a set of SR Suntour Axon Werx 34 forks up front and Shimano XTR doing the drivetrain duties.
Schurter seem to accept his fate at this point and it was left to M. Fluekiger to keep up the hunt on the 21 year old cycling phenom Pidcock. Even taking into account Fluekiger’s trademark head-wobbling style, the Swiss racer was finding things extremely hard work; he spun out in loose dirt on a climb and had to dismount and run up pushing his bike.
The gap between Pidcock and Fluekiger fluctuated throughout the latter half of the race – hovering from six seconds up to twenty seconds – but the final lap itself was something of a procession. A procession which ended with Tom Pidcock grabbing a Union Jack flag from someone on the finishing straight and holding it aloft as he crossed the finish line and took gold.
After one hour and twenty minutes racing on seven laps of the 3.85km course, Tom Pidcock is the Olympic Men’s XC winner.