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Olympics: Tom Pidcock takes sensational men's mountain bike gold for Great Britain

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IZU JAPAN JULY 26 Thomas Pidcock of Team Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal while holding the flag of his country during the Mens Crosscountry race on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 26 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

Tom Pidcock celebrates his victory (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Britains Thomas Pidcock celebrates after winning the gold medal at the medal ceremony of the cycling mountain bike mens crosscountry event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Izu MTB Course in Izu on July 26 2021 Photo by GREG BAKER AFP Photo by GREG BAKERAFP via Getty Images

Gold for Pidcock (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 - Men’s MTB Race - Izu Mountain Bike Course 41km - 26/07/2021 - Mathias Flueckinger (SUI) - Thomas Pidcock (GBR) - David Valero Serrano (ESP) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

Pidcock takes gold, Flueckinger silver, Valero bronze (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 - Men’s MTB Race - Izu Mountain Bike Course 41km - 26/07/2021 - Crash - Mathieu Van Der Poel (NED - Alpecin-Fenix) - Thomas Pidcock (GBR) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

Mathieu van der Poel crashed on the first lap (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 Mens MTB Race Izu Mountain Bike Course 41km 26072021 Crash Mathieu Van Der Poel NED AlpecinFenix photo Anton VosCVBettiniPhoto2021

Mathieu van der Poel after his crash (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 - Men’s MTB Race - Izu Mountain Bike Course 41km - 26/07/2021 - Mathias Flueckinger (SUI) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

Mathias Fleuckinger tackles a jump (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games - Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 - Men’s MTB Race - Izu Mountain Bike Course 41km - 26/07/2021 - Thomas Pidcock (GBR) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021

Tom Pidcock out on course (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Olimpiadi Tokyo 2020 Mens MTB Race Izu Mountain Bike Course 41km 26072021 Thomas Pidcock GBR photo Alex BroadwaySWpixBettiniPhoto2021

Pidcock in the air (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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IZU JAPAN JULY 26 LR Erik Haegstad of Team Norway and Mathieu van der Poel of Team Netherlands rides during the Mens Crosscountry race on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 26 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Van der Poel early in the race (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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IZU JAPAN JULY 26 LR Thomas Pidcock of Team Great Britain ahead of Mathias Flueckiger of Team Switzerland during the Mens Crosscountry race on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 26 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Pidcock leads Fleuckinger down a technical section (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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IZU JAPAN JULY 26 Thomas Pidcock of Team Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal while holding the flag of his country encouraged by Team Great Britain during the Mens Crosscountry race on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 26 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

Pidcock takes the win in front of his Great Britain teammates (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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IZU JAPAN JULY 26 Thomas Pidcock of Team Great Britain celebrates winning the gold medal while holding the flag of his country during the Mens Crosscountry race on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 26 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

Pidcock celebrates gold (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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IZU JAPAN JULY 26 Mathias Flueckiger of Team Switzerland crosses the finish line celebrating his second place during the Mens Crosscountry race on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 26 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

Fleuckinger took silver (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)
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IZU JAPAN JULY 26 David Valero Serrano of Team Spain crosses the finish line celebrating his third place during the Mens Crosscountry race on day three of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Izu Mountain Bike Course on July 26 2021 in Izu Shizuoka Japan Photo by Michael SteeleGetty Images

Valero celebrates bronze (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) stormed to the win in the men’s cross-country mountain bike race at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland) took silver with David Valero Serrano (Spain) claiming bronze. The gold medal was Great Britain's first Olympic win in mountain biking.

The talented all-rounder narrowly avoided a fall by Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) on the opening lap but looked in control through the race from that point onwards.

He followed the early pace set by Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland) and Nino Schurter (Switzerland) before putting in his first attack towards the end of the second lap.

That move merely served as a warning of what was to come with the Ineos Grenadiers rider attacking twice more on the uphill section on lap 3.

Schurter was the first rider to slip from Pidcock’s wheel with Flueckiger holding on until lap 4. The Swiss rider was able to hold Pidcock at 6 seconds at the start of lap five and the gap briefly came down to just three seconds. However, when Flueckiger was forced to walk on a tough ascent he quickly lost all of his momentum. That allowed Pidcock to extend his lead to 11 seconds.

From that point on the result almost looked a formality with Pidcock able to comfortably pick his line and even hold back on certain sections. With one lap to go the 21-year-old had a gap of 14 seconds over Flueckiger, while the battle for bronze was between Anton Cooper (New Zealand), David Valero Serrano (Spain), Victor Koretzky (France), and Schurter.

Pidcock eventually crossed the line 20 seconds clear Flueckiger, with Serrano a further 14 seconds back. Former champion, Schurter, was forced to settle for fourth at the finish line.

“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," a delighted Pidcock said at the finish.

Pidcock came into the Games having fractured a collarbone earlier this summer when he was hit by a car. The win capped an incredible turnaround.

“Really hard. 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.”  

Four days before his 22nd birthday, Pidcock becomes the youngest Olympic mountain bike champion in history, 79 days younger the 2016 women's champion, Jenny Rissveds of Sweden.

How it unfolded

This race was expected to be a battle between Pidcock, Flueckiger, Schurter and Mathieu van der Poel. The start loop seemed to bear out this expectation, with all four in the top six as they began the first of seven laps of the 4.1-kilometre circuit.

However, it was a disaster for Van der Poel, who over rotated after going off a big rock drop, crashing heavily and sitting at the side of the course, holding his wrist and hip. The Dutch rider slowly got going again at the back of the field over a minute back, and managed to move up to the mid-teens before dropping out.

The race for the medals came down to four riders in the first half of the race - Pidcock, Flueckiger, Schurter and Anton Cooper. Henrique Avancini (Brazil), after briefly challenging on Lap 1, drifted backwards on Lap 2 to eventually finish 13th.

As they started Lap 3 it was down to Schurter, Flueckiger and Pidcock at the front, with Cooper dangling on and off the back of the group; losing ground on the climbs and fighting back on the flat and technical sections. Behind, Victor Koretzky (France) and Ondrej Cink (Czech Republic) were close enough to still be in the medal hunt.

However, on the fourth lap Pidcock began to apply pressure on the steep climbs. Schurter initially went with him, which may have been a mistake, since he soon afterwards faded back to Cooper.

Flueckiger managed to claw his way back up to the Brit, but it would prove to be only temporary, with Pidcock dropping the Swiss rider for good as they started the fifth lap. Behind, Schurter and Cooper had been joined by Koretzky, with Cink also getting into the bronze medal battle.

Pidcock attacked every climb, out of the saddle, stomping on the pedals. Flueckiger was holding him to six seconds, but had a costly mistake in the loose gravel of a switchback on one of the steep climbs, having to get off his bike and run. That proved to be the end of his challenge for gold, as he dropped to 15 seconds down, and from that point on he was riding to preserve his silver.

Behind, as the race entered the penultimate lap, Cink attacked, getting a gap on the rest of the chasers. The Czech rider was looking strong until a rear puncture dashed his hopes and took him out of the race.

He could only sit at the side of the course and watch other riders go by. Meanwhile, Valero Serrano was making a steady climb into medal contention, and joined Schurter, Cooper and Koretzky in the battle for third just before the start of the final lap. He went to the front of the group and dropped the other three in the final half lap to take the bronze.

But the day was Thomas Pidcock's; a rider who only qualified a spot for his country in the final race of the qualification period and is more known as a road and cyclo-cross rider. He becomes the second Ineos Grenadiers rider to win gold at these Games, after his WorldTour team mate Richard Carapaz (Ecuador) won the men's road race on Saturday. 

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Tom Pidcock (GBr) 1:25:14
2Mathias Flueckinger (Swi) 0:00:20
3David Valero Serrano (Esp) 0:00:34
4Nino Schurter (Swi) 0:00:42
5Victor Koretzky (Fra) 0:00:46
6Anton Cooper (NZl)
7Vlad Dascalu (Rom) 0:00:49
8Alan Hatherly (RSA) 0:01:19
9Jordan Sarrou (Fra) 0:01:36
10Milan Vader (Ned) 0:02:07
11Anton Sintsov (ROC) 0:02:27
12Filippo Colombo (Swi) 0:02:50
13Henrique Avancini (Bra) 0:02:55
14Christophe Blevins (USA) 0:02:59
15Jofre Cullell Estape (Esp) 0:03:02
16Martin Vidaurre Kossmann (Chi) 0:03:19
17Maximilian Foidl (Aut) 0:03:31
18Jens Schuermans (Bel) 0:03:53
19Bartlomiej Wawak (Pol) 0:03:56
20Gerhard Kerschbaumer (Ita) 0:04:34
21Maximilian Brandl (Ger) 0:04:35
22Sebastian Fini Carstensen (Den) 0:05:14
23Jose Gerardo Ulloa Arevalo (Mex) 0:05:43
24Erik Haegstad (Nor) 0:06:00
25Luca Braidot (Ita) 0:06:16
26Peter Disera (Can) 0:06:31
27Luiz Henrique Cocuzzi (Bra) 0:07:07
28Manuel Fumic (Ger) 0:07:14
29Kohei Yamamoto (Jpn) 0:07:21
30Daniel McConnell (Aus) 0:07:58
31Alex Miller (Nam) 0:09:12
32Andras Parti (Hun) 0:10:19
33Schlomi Haimy (Isr) 0:11:44
34Nadir Colledani (Ita) 1 lap
35Periklis Iliias (Gre) 3 laps
36Peng Zhang (Chn) 3 laps
DNFOndrej Cink (Cze)
DNFMathieu van der Poel (Ned)

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