While everyone was rooting for Nino Schurter, the 35 year old Swiss was snatched of a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Mountain bike fans had their hopes up for the Swiss MTB champ but the gold medal went to Great Britain’s bet: TOM PIDCOCK.
As reported in Olympics.com, Pidcock started near the rear and gained 26 positions after the first lap. He advanced quickly to gain the first position and never let go off it. He finished 20 seconds faster than the silver medalist, Fleuckiger of Switzerland.
Tom Pidcock attributes his success to his maintained weight (less than 60 kilos) during the season. He successfully competed in cyclocross and road racing in the early part of the year but turned his focus on cross country racing. Being a multi disciplined cyclist, he got the endurance and technical riding skills needed for the very challenging cross country mountain bike race.
The Trail at Izu
The course for the Tokyo Olympics is no ride in the park. The climbs are very steep and the downhills are very rocky and dangerous. The riders who were interviewed in Velonews.com admit that the course is a very demanding trail.
The course is in the city of Izu, about 150 km from Tokyo. The track designer, Nick Floros (same guy who designed the Rio and London Olympics track) saw the trees, roots and steep hills as a challenge to the riders. The 4.1 kilometer route is extremely difficult, plus the given weather and humidity in Japan now adds more to the pain. There is around 500 feet of climbing per lap and each steep climb is matched with a death defying downhill drop made of rocks and other deadly obstacles.
The Olympics.com reporters asked Tom on who is the most complete cyclist?
“I would say mountain biker, because they have the skills, and then they have physical ability, of course, which they could transfer to the other disciplines, whereas road riders maybe don’t have to be skillful. Track riders don’t have to be skillful. BMX are skillful but explosive, not with the endurance. So I’d say mountain bikers.”
Tom Pidcock at a glance:
Name: Thomas Pidcock
Age: 21 years old (born July 30, 1999)
From: County of Yorkshire, United Kingdom
UCI rank: 15
Here is a youtube video by Coach D when they visited the Izu track back in 2019:
Thanks for the video, Coach D!
- thank you to velonews.com, olympics.com, redbull.com for the photos.