XCO at the Paris 2024 Olympics: favorites, schedules, and how to watch

Mountain bike 10/07/24 10:22 Migue A.

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games are finalizing the details to welcome the 36 riders who will compete in the most special race on the planet. Tom Pidcock and Nino Schurter stand out from a confirmed list of favorites that includes Koretzky, Gaze, and Fluckiger. In the women's category, all signs point to a new duel between Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Puck Pieterse.

Paris 2024 Olympic Games MTB XCO: schedules and how to watch

The season is advancing non-stop and the Olympic Games are just around the corner. The organization has decided to hold the women's race on the last Sunday of July, while the men's race will take place the following day, falling on a Monday.

The Warner Bros. Discovery group will have the pay-TV broadcasting rights and the Max platform will be in charge of coverage; all standard rate customers will have access to Paris 2024, regardless of whether they have contracted the Sports add-on.

Sunday, July 28

  • 14:10 MTB XCO Women's

Monday, July 29

  • 14:10 MTB XCO Men's

Elancourt Hill: this is the Paris 2024 circuit

The 231 meters of altitude of the Elancourt Hill are the highest point in the Paris region and from its summit, you can see the Eiffel Tower. The organizers decided to avoid any major construction to minimize the impact on the area's biodiversity, so 95% of the track - designed by the expert hand of South African Nick Floros - was established on existing trails.

The artificial hill of Elancourt is a former sandstone quarry, converted into a public park in the 1980s. Part of the legacy that the Olympic Games will leave behind is the organization of national and international MTB races.

 

The circuit has a length of 4.3 km -2.2 km for the start loop- and has a positive elevation gain of 110 m. It is a track that leaves little room for error, with almost no areas to catch your breath, making it fast and physical. In addition, the track has various technical sections such as rock gardens or jumps. A great atmosphere is expected, as the venue offers a capacity of 15,000 people.

Tom Pidcock, facing the opportunity to win the gold medal again

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games will bring together many of the world's best riders. Despite the controversy that arose at the time due to the decision to further limit participation - with a maximum of two cyclists per country - the list of participants will gather a good number of top riders. After the hard work to secure a ticket to Paris, the top favorites already know who their rivals will be in the battle for the most coveted medals.

Tom Pidcock is the favorite for the gold. The results of this season support the British rider's candidacy, as he has won all the races he has competed in since the beginning of the year - La Nucía and the World Cups in Nove Mesto and Crans Montana. Beyond these victories, it is worth noting how he achieved them; the feeling is that Pidcock is one step ahead of his rivals, and on paper, this superiority gives him a slight advantage heading into the Olympic event.

The triumph in Tokyo 2020 is another argument in his favor. However, it remains to be seen how he will arrive in Paris after the efforts of the Tour, in another example of the hectic schedule that marks the Rider's roadmap.

Nino Schurter is the other big name in the competition. The Swiss rider already has all the Olympic medals in his trophy cabinet and with a legendary curriculum - less than a month ago, he achieved his 36th victory in the World Cup - one might think he has already accomplished everything. However, he is facing what are supposedly his last Olympic Games and the opportunity to equal Julien Absalon's two gold medals.

Mathias Fluckiger is the other Swiss rider called to duty and another contender with a strong chance of having a great race. The French team is racing at home and presents two of the riders with the most chances: Victor Koretzky and Jordan Sarrou.

Spain will field David Valero and Jofre Cullell. Valero's bronze in Tokyo 2020 is still fresh in memory, and despite arriving after a somewhat lackluster season in terms of results, the professional climber maintains the goal of delivering a good performance. On the other hand, Cullell's state of grace will boost the Catalan and he will try to put the finishing touch on a fantastic year in which he has been going from strength to strength.

Other big names that could be in the mix include Luca Schwarzbauer (Germany), Chris Blevins (USA), Alan Hatherly (South Africa) - coming off a double win in Les Gets -, Sam Gaze (New Zealand), and young talents like Charlie Aldridge (UK) or Riley Amos (USA).

Ferrand-Prevot and the dream of winning gold at Paris 2024

In the women's category, Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is the favorite to conquer the top step of the podium. The French rider announced that this would be her last season in MTB, and therefore, she is facing her last chance to win the Olympic gold. Ferrand-Prevot will try to complete a dream trajectory and make up for the bitter disappointment of the fall in Tokyo 2020.

She will have Puck Pieterse against her, ready to put up a fight. The young rider has been below her main rival in direct duels this year, but the capabilities and determination of the Dutch rider are undeniable. The presence of Jolanda Neff is still uncertain, as she is called up but stated that she would withdraw if she does not recover from her respiratory problems.

Other top riders like Alessandra Keller (Switzerland), Haley Batten (USA), Savilia Blunk (USA), Rebecca Henderson (Australia), Evie Richards (UK), and Loana Lecomte (France) will also be present.

The Olympic Games usually have a surprising outcome, and often the results challenge the pre-race predictions. The 36 riders who will be at the start line of Paris 2024 will share the dream of winning the most coveted medals on the planet, and although there are several riders theoretically labeled as favorites, only the course of the race will determine who will claim the medals.

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