Tokyo Olympics mountain biking: Everything you need to know about the off-road events

Mathieu van der Poel, Tom Pidcock, and Evie Richards amongst those fighting for medals

Mathieu van der Poel
(Image credit: Getty)

For cycling fans the Tokyo Olympics features countless highlights across disciplines, including the start-studded mountain biking events.

The delayed 2020 Olympics in Japan (now taking place in 2021) will feature both women’s and men’s cross-country MTB events, with familiar names lining up in both.

In the men’s event, the start list will feature stars of the road like Mathieu van der Poel and Tom Pidcock, along with mountain bike specialists like reigning Olympic champion Nino Schurter. 

The women’s competition will also feature huge-talents in the off road discipline, including Evie Richards, Kate Courtney and Jolanda Neff. 

Here is everything you need to know about the Tokyo Olympics MTB events: 

When is the Olympic mountain biking?

Britain's Evie Richards

Britain's Evie Richards

(Image credit: Getty)

The men’s MTB event takes place on Monday, July 26 and starts at 7pm Japan time (7am British time, 1am EST in the US), followed by the women’s event on Tuesday, July 27, from 7pm Japan time (7am British time and 1am EST in the US). 

The course 

The Olympic mountain biking course in Tokyo

The Olympic mountain biking course in Tokyo

(Image credit: Tokyo Olympics)

The Izu MTB Course will be a 4km lap, featuring around 180 metres of elevation gain per lap, featuring some technical rocky sections. The number of laps riders will tackle has not yet been determined, but is expected to be between seven to nine loops. 

Who is riding?

Tom Pidcock racing MTB World Cup

Tom Pidcock racing MTB World Cup  

(Image credit: Getty)

The men’s event will feature some serious talent, including the reigning Olympic gold medalist and multiple world champion Nino Schurter (Switzerland), but he will not be the favourite heading into the race. 

Instead the top-three bookies’s favourites are Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) and Mathias Flückiger (Switzerland). 

Earlier this year, Pidcock claimed his first elite World Cup victory on the mountain bike in Nove Mesto, after riding away from Van der Poel.

Meanwhile Van der Poel, who is always dominant in World Cup short track events, took his first win at Val di Sole back in 2019 and has been focussed on Olympic gold for much of the 2021 season. 

>>> Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cycling schedule: when to watch the racing

In the women’s event, Jenny Rissveds (Sweden) is the reigning gold medallist but is not amongst the favourites for victory. 

Instead the French duo of Loana Lecompte and Pauline Ferrand Prevot are among the favourites, with Evie Richards (Great Britain) also a serious contender.

Team GB: Tom Pidcock, Evie Richards

US team: Kate Courtney, Haley Batten, Erin Huck Christopher Blevins

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.