Tokyo 2020: Favourite men

Jul 25, 2021

XCO men 2021

Tomorrow the olympic mens mountainbike race of the Tokyo 2020 olympics takes place on the Izu MTB course. Here are the favourites you should keep an eye on.

Nino Schurter

The defending olympic champion is probably the one contender whose intentions are on the table the longest. His dream is to repeat his success of 2016 in Rio to do the same as Julien Absalon and win two olympic gold medals. But if you look at his season 2021 so far it doesn’t look too promising. He didn’t win anything. He came close at the Albstadt World Cup where he was beaten by Victor Koretzky by only seconds. But he has the experience to know when to be on his best level. Nino Schurters eight world champion titles didn’t come from nowhere. But it hasn’t gotten easier in the last years for him. I don’t really expect him on the podium to be honest, but I also wouldn’t be too surprised if he manages so snatch a medal.

Mathieu van der Poel

The guy who rode in yellow at the Tour de France this year for several days to train for the olympic mountain bike race. Mathieu was not shy to announce very early that his big goal is to win a medal at the olympic games and it should be the golden one. His last win in XCO was almost two years ago but he did only race two races since then. Those were the Albstadt and Nove Mesto World Cups this year and he was seventh and second. Also he did win every short track race he ever participated in. The course in Izu with its short climbs should very much suit him also the rocks there shouldn’t be a problem for him. I think he is the top favourite. He had a great season so far, winning several races on the road in cross and on the MTB. He also is in top shape and has no injuries. Only the really hot and humid climate might not play in his favour.

Tom Pidcock

The new kid on the block is a guy who seems to excel in all things cycling. Last year he started in XCO racing after being already a very successful cyclocrosser. In his second elite XCO race he beat Mathieu van der Poel at the World Cup in Nove Mesto this year and took the first spot. But several weeks ago he had crash with a car in training and broke his collar bone. He was able to start at the world Cup in Les Gets on July 4th, but he was not able to finish the race. So his form now is a bit of a mystery. I suppose he recovered well by now but maybe not well enough to take the top spot.

Mathias Flückiger

The fastest Swiss guy had almost a perfect season so far. In may he became Swiss champion and after that he won everything. He won both World Cups in Les gets and Leogang including the short track races. He did so in a very convincing manner and never seemed to have any problems. I think Mathias has to win the bronze medal at least. At those races he dominated Mathieu van der Poel was not there and Tom Pidcock was injured but those two were the only ones who were able to beat him lately.

Ondrej Cink

The other guy who is pretty consistent lately is Ondrej Cink. He was able to follow Mathias Flückiger at least until the latter half of the races. He never manages to really get in from and away from him, gut he was there, every single time and finished second. If he has a good day a spot on the podium is possible for him.

Those are the most obvious candidates to win a medal but there are several other guys who could als be in the mix if they have a special day. Jordan Sarrou, the current world champion, didn’t win anything after his world champion title, but he was always right behind the winning guys and sometimes on the podium. Henrique Avancini did win his first World Cup last year but the start of this season was not like he hoped so he stayed in Brazil and did not start at the last two rounds of the World Cup to focus on his training. The course in Izu might suit him so he might be a up for a surprise.

The race starts on Monday 8:00 CEST and around 1.5 hours later we have a new olympic champion.