Tom Pidcock stormed to gold with a dominant ride in the men’s Olympic cross-country mountain bike race in Izu on Monday.
The 21-year-old Yorkshireman started on the fourth row but quickly got himself into the leading group and powered past the Swiss pair of Mathias Flückiger and Nino Schurter to take control on the fourth of seven laps.
Flückiger was the only man left in touch as Pidcock kept the power down to win by 20 seconds, having time to snatch a union flag and hold it aloft as he crossed the line.
Pidcock adds the Olympic mountain bike title to his already extensive palmarès, having won world titles in cyclocross, road and mountain bike events at under-23 level. This is Britain’s first Olympic mountain biking medal.
When asked how it felt to win gold, Pidcock told Eurosport: “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.”
David Valero of Spain won the battle for bronze, 34 seconds down, the distance to the chasing pack underlining Pidcock’s dominance. Mathieu van der Poel, another of the pre-race favourites, pulled out after the fifth lap having crashed heavily early on.
Pidcock was racing in Japan less than two months after suffered a broken collarbone less than two months ago in a training crash on the road, but looked in supreme form as he bossed this race.
After Pidcock got himself in front his rivals gradually fell away, with Flückiger the only one who could stay in touch. But a slip for the 32-year-old on the fifth lap proved crucial as the man who tops the world rankings lost ground, then hope.
On his return from injury, Pidcock added: “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.”
Tom Pidcock wins cross-country mountain bike gold with dominant ride