Tom Pidcock wins gold medal at Tokyo 2020
Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) won the men’s cross-country MTB race at the Tokyo Olympics. Silver went to Mathias Flueckiger of Switzerland, and bronze went to David Valero Serrano of Spain. The gold medal was the first for the United Kingdom in MTB at the Olympics.
Pidcock entered the Games after breaking his collarbone in a vehicle accident earlier this summer. The victory marked the end of a remarkable turnaround.
“It’s quite difficult. Since then, I haven’t run a good race. I’d put in a lot of effort and knew I was in good shape, but there’s always that nagging concern when I haven’t competed in a race. But as soon as the race began, I felt I was in good shape. The heat, I mean, I wasn’t feeling well, but everyone had told me that no one would feel well.”
Pidcock becomes the youngest Olympic mountain biking champion in history, four days before his 22nd birthday, and 79 days younger than the 2016 women’s champion, Jenny Rissveds of Sweden.
The talented all-rounder narrowly avoided a fall by Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) on the first lap but looked in command of the race after that.
He trailed the early pace set by Mathias Flueckiger (Switzerland) and Nino Schurter (Switzerland) before launching his first attack near the end of the second lap.
That maneuver was merely a foreshadowing of what was to come, as the Ineos Grenadiers rider attacked twice more on the uphill section on lap 3.
Schurter was the first rider to leave Pidcock’s wheel, with Flueckiger hanging on until the fourth lap. At the start of lap five, the Swiss rider was able to keep Pidcock at 6 seconds, and the gap was briefly reduced to three seconds. When Flueckiger was forced to walk up a difficult ascent, he quickly lost all of his momentum. Pidcock was able to increase his lead to 11 seconds as a result of this.
From then on, the result appeared to be a formality, with Pidcock able to pick his line and even hold back on certain sections. The 21-year-old had a 14-second lead over Flueckiger with one lap to go, while the battle for bronze was between Anton Cooper (New Zealand), David Valero Serrano (Spain), Victor Koretzky (France), and Schurter.
Pidcock eventually won by 20 seconds against Flueckiger, with Serrano trailing by 14 seconds. Schurter, the defending champion, had to settle for fourth place at the finish line.
“It’s not real at all. “I was trying to remind myself at the start of the race that it’s special just to be here,” a happy Pidcock remarked at the finish.