Olympics 2020

Bradley Wiggins leads the GB team pursuit on their way to qualifying fastest at the 2016 Olympic Games (Watson)

Olympic Games, 2020
Location: Tokyo
Dates: July 23 – August 8, 2021

The cycling calendar is usually quite a fixed affair, with the same races appearing every season generally in the same familiar slot. But every four years a spanner gets thrown in the works in the form of the Olympic Games. 

While the Tokyo Olympics were initially scheduled to take place in 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic threw the whole event into doubt before they were finally postponed to 2021. 

In March last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that the Games would be postponed by a year because of the virus. 

On March 24, the Olympic committee confirmed that it was necessary to delay the games “to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.” 

The Tokyo games were Initially scheduled to take place from July 24 until August 9, 2020, just a few days after the finish of the Tour de France in Paris on July 19, 2020.

But now the games have been moved to a new date, taking place from July 23 until August 8, 2021. 

However, there was mounting uncertainty about the fate of the Games as the coronavirus pandemic continued into 2021. 

Some reports suggested that athletes may need to quarantine before competing in the Olympics, which would make it impossible for cyclists racing the Tour de France to compete in the Tokyo road race, with just 10 days between the two events. 

However, the Tokyo 2020 organisers have since denied that a quarantine would be put in place.

Sir Keith Mills, an entrepreneur who served as the chief executive for the Olympics in Britain eight years ago, then said the organisers of the postponed games in Japan should now be “making plans for cancellation” and that the Olympics were “unlikely to go ahead.”

In January, Tokyo saw a surge in coronavirus cases during a third wave with hospitals in Japan on the brink of collapse.  

The country hit more than 4,900 Covid-19 infections in one day on Monday, with the number of serious cases also increasing, while the capital Tokyo was put in a state of emergency.  

However, the Prime Minister of Japan vowed to push ahead with plans to hold the Games, despite the growing public opposition.

The Olympic games include road, track, mountain bike and BMX events.

Road events

The most comparable annual race on the road calendar to the Olympic road race is the World Championships. Both events feature a circuit-based road race and lengthy time-trial, and in both events riders compete for their nation rather than their trade team.

Unlike the Worlds and most other races, where failure one year is at least compensated by the chance to try again in 12 months’ time, riders only get a few shots at winning an Olympic medal throughout their entire careers, and consequently the event attracts stellar fields.

Greg Van Avermaet wins the men's road race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Greg Van Avermaet wins the men’s road race at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

In Tokyo, the men’s road race will take place on Saturday, July 24. The women’s road race follows on Sunday, July 25.

On Wednesday July 28, both men and women will race their respective individual time trials.

Track events

Following the road events will be six days of track cycling within the Izu Velodrome, from Monday August 2 to Sunday August 8.

Riders will contest the team pursuit, omnium, sprint, team sprint and – newly added for 2020 – the Madison.

The omnium features a revised format, with four endurance events (scratch, elimination, tempo and points race) included over one day of competition, as opposed to the previous two days which also included a flying lap, time trial, and individual pursuit.

For an in-depth explanation of each event, check out our guide to track cycling disciplines. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Schedule

Road race events

Saturday July 24, men’s road race, 11.00am-6.15pm, (234km) Route
Sunday July 25, women’s road race, 1.00pm-5.35pm (137km) Route

Time trial events

Wednesday July 28, men’s and women’s time trials, 11.30am-5.20pm (44.2km and 22.1km) Route

Track events

Monday August 2, 3.30pm – 6.30pm

Women’s Team Sprint Qualifying
Women’s Team Pursuit Qualifying
Women’s Team Sprint First round
Men’s Team Pursuit Qualifying
Women’s Team Sprint Finals
Women’s Team Sprint Victory Ceremony

Tuesday August 3, 3.30pm – 6.10pm

Women’s Team Pursuit First round
Men’s Team Sprint Qualifying
Men’s Team Pursuit First round
Men’s Team Sprint First round
Women’s Team Pursuit Finals
Men’s Team Sprint Finals
Women’s Team Pursuit Victory Ceremony
Men’s Team Sprint Victory Ceremony

Wednesday August 4, 3.30pm – 7.00pm

Men’s Sprint Qualifying
Women’s Keirin First round
Men’s Sprint 1/32 Finals
Women’s Keirin First round Repechages
Men’s Sprint 1/32 Finals Repechages
Men’s Team Pursuit Finals
Men’s Sprint 1/16 Finals
Men’s Team Pursuit Victory Ceremony
Men’s Sprint 1/16 Finals Repechages

Thursday August 6, 3.30pm – 6:50pm

Men’s Omnium Scratch Race 1\4
Men’s Sprint 1/8 Finals
Women’s Keirin Second Round
Men’s Sprint 1/8 Finals Repechages
Men’s Omnium Tempo Race 2\4
Men’s Sprint 1/4 Finals
Women’s Keirin Third Round
Men’s Omnium Elimination Race 3\4
Women’s Keirin Final Places 7 to 12
Women’s Keirin Finals
Men’s Omnium Points Race 4\4
Men’s Sprint Final Places 5 to 8
Women’s Keirin Victory Ceremony
Men’s Omnium Victory Ceremony

Friday August 6, 3.30pm – 5.15pm

Women’s Sprint Qualifying
Men’s Sprint 1/2 Finals
Women’s Sprint 1/32 Finals
Women’s Sprint 1/32 Finals Repechages
Women’s Madison Final
Men’s Sprint Final Places 3-4 & 1-2
Women’s Sprint 1/16 Finals
Women’s Madison Victory Ceremony
Women’s Sprint 1/16 Finals Repechages
Men’s Sprint Victory Ceremony

Saturday, August 7, 3.30pm – 6.25pm

Women’s Sprint 1/8 Finals
Men’s Keirin First Round
Women’s Sprint 1/8 Finals Repechages
Men’s Keirin Repechages
Women’s Sprint Quarterfinals
Men’s Madison Final
Men’s Madison Victory Ceremony

Sunday, August 8, 10am – 1.15pm

Women’s Omnium Scratch Race 1/4
Women’s Sprint Semifinals
Men’s Keirin Quarterfinals
Women’s Omnium Tempo Race 2/4
Women’s Sprint Race for 5th-8th Places
Men’s Keirin Semifinals
Women’s Sprint Finals
Women’s Omnium Elimination Race 3/4
Men’s Keirin Final 7-12
Men’s Keirin Final 1-6
Men’s Keirin Victory Ceremony
Women’s Omnium Points Race 4/4
Women’s Sprint Victory Ceremony
Women’s Omnium Victory Ceremony

BMX events

Thurs July 29, BMX Racing Qualifiers, 10am-12pm
Fri July 30, BMX Racing Finals, 10am-12.20pm
Sat July 31, BMX Freestyle Qualifiers, 10.10am-12.20pm
Sun August 1, BMX Freestyle Finals, 10.10am-12.45pm

MTB events

Mon July 26, men’s cross country, 3pm-5pm
Tues July 27, women’s cross country, 3pm-5pm

Reigning champions: Rio 2016 winners

  • Men’s road race: Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
  • Women’s road race Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
  • Women’s time trial: Kristin Armstrong (USA)
  • Men’s time trial: Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
  • Men’s team sprint: Great Britain
  • Women’s team sprint: China
  • Men’s team pursuit: Great Britain
  • Women’s team pursuit: Great Britain
  • Men’s sprint: Jason Kenny (Great Britain)
  • Women’s sprint: Kristina Vogel (Germany)
  • Men’s keirin: Jason Kenny (Great Britain)
  • Women’s keirin: Elis Ligtlee (Netherlands)
  • Men’s omnium: Elia Viviani (Italy)
  • Women’s omnium: Laura Trott (Great Britain)
  • Men’s BMX: Connor Fields (USA)
  • Women’s BMX: Mariana Pajon (Colombia)
  • Men’s mountain bike: Nino Schurter (Switzerland)