The routes for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cycling events have been confirmed – with some startlingly testing courses across the road and time trial disciplines.
All events will feature backdrops of Mount Fuji – and the men’s road race will climb the lower slopes of Japan’s highest mountain.
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The women’s road race, controversially, skips the key spectacle, but still features a vast amount of elevation and the time trial routes are identical, with men completing two laps to the women’s one.
Temperatures may play a part in dictating who shines at the Olympics, with Tokyo’s July and August average highs between 29 and 31°c.
On unveiling the routes, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto commented: “The Olympic and Paralympic cycling courses will be quite challenging, traversing rugged up-anddown terrain near Mount Fuji. The spectacle of the world’s top athletes battling it out on these courses is bound to excite audiences.”
David Lappartient, President of the UCI, added: “The combination of the stunning scenery of the Mount Fuji region and the stern challenge that the Olympic and Paralympic courses will provide will deliver a fantastic spectacle for cycling fans in Japan and across the world, and we’re looking forward with anticipation and excitement to the start of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympic road race: men’s course
The 234 kilometre race departs from the Musashinonomori Park, with a 10km neutral zone before routing west via the Kagosaka Pass, passing through Kanagawa, Yamanashi and Shizuoka.
The route – which accumulates 4865 metres of climbing – then heads off for the ‘Mount Fuji Circuit’, which sees riders take on the lower slopes of the beast which attracts thousands of climbers every year.
On return, they’ll pass the spectacular Lake Yamanakako, using popular cycling routes.
Charging into the Fuji International Speedway racetrack, which will host the finish, riders will complete a short lap before moving on to the Mikuni Pass section. The 6.8km climb averages at 10.2 per cent, with sections at 12.6 per cent en route to the 1159 metre peak.
The next logical step is a long descent, which is followed by fairly flat terrain before the racers hit the Speedway circuit for the third and final time.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic road race: women’s course
The women’s 137km race bypasses the Mount Fuji climb and the Mikuni Pass is excluded as well. This proved to be a highly controversial decision, with many riders voicing their discontent.
Olympic champion of 2012, Marianne Vos commented: “Riders make the race, but the signal that goes out from this [sic] different course types for men and women is not the equality the IOC (International Olympic Committee) aims for.”
Whist the route profile misses some of the tantalising spikes in elevation that we see on the men’s, the 137km loop still contains a notable degree of elevation – at 2692 metres of climbing.
Like the men’s event, riders begin in Japan’s metropolitan area, climbing the Doushi Road and Kagosaka Pass. The peloton then descends to the Fuji International Speedway, completing one lap before the finish.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic road race course
Paralympic athletes will use a 13.2 km lap, which makes a feature of the Fuji Speedway motor circuit.
The terrain looks to be rolling but not mountainous, and the number of laps will vary depending upon the rider’s class of competition and gender.
Commenting on the release of the route, 14-time Paralympic champion Dame Sarah Storey said: “I am excited to see the road race courses released for the Tokyo Paralympic Games with just under two years to go. It’s the first time Paracyclists have had a notice period of this length and it will assist everyone greatly with their preparations.
“Just like the Olympic Games, the courses use the Fuji Speedway which is another first in providing parallel opportunity and exposure at the Paralympic Games.
“The courses themselves will provide an all-round challenge to riders and will suit a tough all-round rider, meaning races are likely to be wide open and preparations will be key.”
Tokyo 2020 Olympic time trial routes
The men’s and women’s time trial courses, 44.2km and 22.1km respectively, share the same loop though the men will complete two laps.
The 22.1km lap contains 423 metres of climbing, starting with a descent, followed by a tough incline, with more downhill before a more gradual upwards slope.
The course starts and ends at the Fuji Speedway motor racing circuit which hosts the finish of both road races, and the organisers promise a scenic backdrop in the shape of the familiar Mount Fuji.
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic time trial course
The course for the Paralympic time trial events looks to be significantly flatter than the Olympic routes, though the terrain is still rolling.
Classes B, H1 to 5, T1 and 2 and C1 to 5 will compete on an 8km lap, which starts and finishes at the Fuji Speedway circuit, with Mount Fuji again looming in the backdrop.
In the team relay events, classes H1 to 5, will ride a 2.7km lap, with three athletes per team completing three laps each.