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Ramp back for women’s Olympic mountain bike race with extreme weather course changes

IZU JAPAN JULY 27 Evie Richards of Team Great Britain jumps during the Womens Crosscountry race on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 27 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Evie Richards(Great Britain) during the women's cross-country mountain bike race at the Tokyo Olympics held in 2021 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

So far at the cycling at the Tokyo Olympics, we’ve watched the road cyclists grappling with the weather in the form of heat and humidity, but now as the Tropical Storm Nepartak nears the Japanese coast, the associated extreme weather conditions are resulting in course changes and possible lightning for the women’s cross-country mountain bike race. 

The official communication from the UCI Technical Delegate came through early this afternoon Tokyo time to say that the A-line on the Joren rock garden would be closed and the entry to the A-line on the Karesansui rock garden closed, with a new line opened that would allow that line to be rejoined half way down.

The training ramp on the Sakura Drop – where Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel crashed early in the men’s mountain bike race saying on Twitter he was unaware it would be removed – will also be put back. 

"Due to the slippery landing surface on Sakura Drop the training ramp will be re-installed to allowed riders to roll the jump, but the A-line will remain open," said the communication issued by the UCI Technical Delegate.

The latest forecast, issued this morning, is also looking for temperatures in the high 20’s during the competition, with a moderation of the rainy conditions seen earlier in the day.

“Today, the rain will ease, but the cloudy weather will continue,” said the forecast. “During the competition there is possibility of lightning, so it may affect the competition.”

The weather has had an impact on other events too, with some rescheduled, like the archery, and the surfing medal events brought forward.The men’s cross-country mountain bike race on Monday, however, escaped the rain and extreme weather. It was won by Great Britain’s Tom Pidcock while Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland) took silver and David Valero Serrano (Spain) claimed the bronze medal.

The first-year elite rider from France, Loana Lecomte, is a clear favourite for the women’s race as she has been undefeated on the World Cup circuit this year. Then there is defending Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds of Sweden, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, who has been top-5 in every World Cup this year, and Australia’s Rebecca McConnell, who has delivered two top-5 finishes this season and twice taken bronze at the World Championships. 

The field of 38 women will take on five laps of the reduced 3.85-kilometre circuit plus the 1.3 kilometre start loop in a race of 20.55 kilometres on the course which is located near the city of Izu, approximately 150 kilometres from Tokyo. It has five climbs per lap with over 150 metres of elevation gain. Due to the conditions, a number of sections have also been widened to allow more line options in the slippery conditions.