Tom Pidcock wins the gold medal and changes MTB forever. Flueckiger takes the silver and David Valero the bronze
Britain's Tom Pidcock takes the gold medal in mountain biking at the Tokyo Olympics. Switzerland's Mathias Flueckiger took the silver medal and David Valero took bronze in a historic race.
Pidcock wins gold medal at Tokyo Olympics
At 15:00 local time in Tokyo, the most awaited men's mountain bike race of the last 5 years started. A very demanding race due to the heat and humidity conditions in which the riders would have to complete 7 laps of the circuit plus 1 initial loop.
A bad start for Spain
As we could imagine, the heat was no problem for the very explosive start, short track style. The first to take the lead of the race was the Dutchman Milan Vader with the Frenchman Victor Koretzky on his wheel and the Swiss Mathias Flueckiger in third position. In the initial loop the worst news was for the Spaniards David Valero and Jofre Cullel who were far behind.
Van der Poel's fall
Less than 10 minutes into the race, Mathieu van der Poel suffered a crash on the biggest jump of the course, which took him completely out of the race and forced him to retire. He tried to stay in the race but was out of any chance of a medal.
After a first lap in which Henrique Avancini had led the race with the group of favourites still very compact, Nino Schurter launched a hard attack at the start of lap 2. An attack that did not open a gap but left him in the lead and took his compatriot Mathias Flueckiger on his wheel.
With this move by Schurter, Avancini was a little behind, 12 seconds away from the lead, while Thomas Flueckiger, Tom Pidcock, Nino Schurter, Victor Koretzky and Anton Cooper were in the front.
David Valero and Jofre Cullel were in 20th and 22nd positions while Mathieu van der Poel, far from dropping out, was still in the race and moving up positions, one minute behind the first riders.
Tom Pidcock vs Switzerland
Again on lap 3 it was Nino Schurter who upped the pace, and this time he managed to stretch out the front group. Tom Pidcock was left alone with Swiss riders Nino Schurter and Mathias Flueckiger, while Anton Cooper was fighting in fourth position to avoid being left behind.
This situation did not intimidate the British rider and Pidcock moved into the lead as soon as he had the chance. Nino Schurter stayed on his wheel and made a couple of good changes of pace when Flueckiger was a little bit behind and moved up to fourth position behind Cooper.
David Valero was making one of the best comebacks of the day and was already close to the Top 10 and riding in the lead time.
What many of us thought happened with 3 laps to go. Tom Pidcock launched an attack at a pace that seemed to break the race. Only Flueckiger pushed as hard as he could to try to keep Pidcock as close as possible, but in third place Nino Schurter was already 15 seconds behind Pidcock.
Pidcock's attack led to a group of three that included Schurter, Koretzky and Anton Cooper, fighting for the bronze medal.
David Valero continued to climb positions and was already in eighth place, which would improve his previous performance at the Olympic Games when he finished 9th in Rio.
David Valero reaches the fight for bronze and Van der Poel withdraws
The only one able to keep up with Tom Pidcock's pace so far had been the Swiss Mathias Flueckiger, but the gap between them had never been less than 4 seconds in the last two laps. On lap 5 that gap increased to 12 seconds due to a slip by the Swiss rider on the uphill.
In the fight for bronze came a motivated Ondrej Cink who overtook Cooper, Schurter and Koretzky as soon as he made contact with them. Cink's misfortune came on lap 5 when he had a flat tyre on his rear tyre and said goodbye to his Olympic adventure.
Van der Poel, who was still in the race after a huge crash on lap 1, had to retire after breaking his chain.
Spain's David Valero Serrano continued with the best comeback of the day and made contact with the group fighting for bronze on the last lap. Anything could happen.
Last lap and Valero goes for the Spanish miracle
Britain's Tom Pidcock crossed the line of the final lap back in the lead and at just 21 years of age was ready to take a gold that would be the ultimate milestone in changing mountain biking today. Mathias Flueckiger held on for second and the fight was on for bronze.
The Spaniard David Valero overtook Nino Schurter on the last lap and for the first time was in medal position. Incredible comeback of the Spaniard who we remember that a bad start relegated him to 22nd position.