Editor’s Note: We’ve updated our original Olympics mountain biking coverage with results.
Mountain Biking at this year’s Olympics is set to be home to one of the toughest courses — and best performances — yet.
Mountain biking follows road and track cycling as one of the major bike disciplines at the Olympic Games this summer. A total of 35 nations will have athletes compete in Olympic mountain biking this year. Here’s how it works, athletes to watch, and everything you need to know.
- Olympic Mountain Biking: Course, Scoring, and More
- Mountain Biking: Team USA Athletes
- Mountain Biking: Athletes to Watch
- How to Watch at the Olympics
Results: Olympic Mountain Biking
Tom Pidcock of Great Britain took gold this year in men’s mountain biking, marking Great Britain’s first Olympic win in the sport.
Switzerland slid into silver on the men’s podiums with Mathias Flückiger’s performance. But the real story was the Swiss women, who brought home gold, silver, and bronze.
Jolanda Neff of Switzerland won gold by over a minute, with her silver and bronze teammate medalists shutting out athletes from Austria, France, and the U.S. by more than a minute as well.
Prior to this year, Switzerland had not won a medal in women’s mountain biking since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia.
Here are the results:
- Men’s Gold: Tom Pidcock, Great Britain
- Men’s Silver: Mathias Flückiger, Switzerland
- Men’s Bronze: David Valero Serrano, Spain
- Women’s Gold: Jolanda Neff, Switzerland
- Women’s Silver: Sina Frei, Switzerland
- Women Bronze: Linda Indergand, Switzerland
For U.S. mountain bike athletes, Haley Batten was the top female American in ninth place, while Christopher Blevins placed 14th for men.
Olympic Mountain Biking: Course, Scoring, and More
Mountain biking, or MTB Cross-Country, was adopted as an official Olympic sport at the Atlanta 1996 Games. This will be its seventh appearance at the Olympics.
The MTB Cross-Country course consists of 4-6 km of mostly narrow dirt single-track trails, and it usually takes riders 90–105 minutes to complete. In this year’s Olympics, it will have seven to nine laps (not confirmed by course officials yet), with the first rider to complete the required laps winning gold.
The MTB course for Tokyo will be held at the 4,100m off-road Izu Mountain Bike Course near Izu City, Shizuoka, Japan. And according to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Committee, it’s set to be harder than previous Olympic courses.
Mountain Biking: Team USA Athletes
Both men’s and women’s categories will field 38 athletes in the MTB discipline at the Olympics. Thirty places were allocated through the UCI national rankings and three through continental championships (one each for Africa, the Americas, and Asia). One spot per gender was reserved for Japanese athletes (the perks of being the host nation).
The remaining four spots went to the top mountain bikers at the 2019 UCI World Championships — two each from the elite and under-23 categories.
Each country can have up to three athletes per gender on their team. However, most countries only have one or two mountain bike athletes in the running. The U.S. has four MTB athletes headed to Tokyo:
Bio: Started cycling at a young age in California; started mountain biking after joining her high school bike team; she holds one junior UCI World Cup title and four under-23 World Cup titles.
Known for: 2018 World Champion; became the 2019 UCI World Cup Series Overall Champion, the first American to win this title in 17 years.
Bio: Started cycling at the age of 9 in her hometown of Park City, UT; Elite Women’s National Team member; 2020 Olympic alternate team member.
Known for: Holds four national titles in Junior and under-23 UCI World Cup categories.
Bio: Grew up cycling in hometown of Estes Park, Colorado; competed in the 2011, 2012, and 2014 USA Cycling Cross-Country MTB National Championships.
Known for: Four-time National Champion; selected to the USA Cycling Mountain Bike World Championship team in 2012; 2016 and 2020 Olympic alternate team member.
Editor’s Note: In July 2021, U.S. Olympic Team MTB athlete Chloe Woodruff resigned from the Olympics, citing personal reasons. Her spot was filled by Erin Huck, who had previously also qualified and was slated as an alternate for the Olympic Team.
Bio: Started BMX biking at the age of 5; started mountain biking and road cycling at age 12.
Known for: Five-time XC nationals age group winner; placed second at the 2018 Cross-Country World Championship; 2018 Cyclocross U23 Men’s National Champion.
These four MTB athletes join 23 other athletes on the U.S. Olympic Cycling team, which includes 14 road and track cyclists and nine BMX athletes — Connor Fields, Corben Sharrah, Alise Willoughby, Felicia Stancil, Payton Ridenour, Hannah Roberts, Perris Benegas, Justin Dowell, and Nick Bruce.
Mountain Biking: More Athletes to Watch
Aside from Team USA, here are a few international mountain bikers to watch at the Olympics. Thirty-eight athletes will compete for men, and 38 for women, with 34 international nations represented in the lineup against the U.S.
Countries that have more than two athletes on their MTB teams include the U.S., Canada, Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands. The Swiss team has the most mountain bike competitors, with three athletes of each gender going to the Games.
Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Great Britain, Japan, Mexico, Poland, and South Africa are all sending one male and one female MTB athlete each.
A three-time Olympian and one of the top men’s competitors for mountain biking at the Olympics this year (and defending champ from the last Summer Olympics).
Known for: Three-time Olympian; five-time consecutive winner of the men’s UCI World Cross-Country Championships from 2015 to 2019; holds an insane 12 podium finishes (nine first-place finishes) at UCI World Cross-Country and Under-23 Cross-Country Championship races; has been riding professionally since 2003.
Ferrand-Prévot could be the top female mountain bike athlete to beat at this year’s Games.
Known for: Two-time Olympian (competed in road cycling in the 2016 Olympic Games); cyclocross and cross-country cyclist who holds five World Titles, three of which are in mountain biking; three-time Junior World Champion; won gold at the 2019 UCI World Cross-Country Championships.
Known for: Youngest cyclist to win a UCI World Tour race (at age 20); overall winner of the 2020 and 2021 Tour de France; first Slovenian winner of the Tour de France, and at 21, the second-youngest Tour winner (after Henri Cornet, who won at age 19 in 1904).
Mathieu van der Poel
Known for: Being a triple threat as a road cyclist, mountain biker, and cyclocross competitor; won both the European Cyclocross and Mountain Bike Cross-Country Championships in 2019; finished second in the World Cup at Albstadt behind competitor Nino Schurter in 2017.
One of the top female mountain bike athletes to watch for at this year’s Olympics, Rissveds will be defending her MTB gold from the 2016 Games.
Known for: Two-time Olympian; won the gold medal for women’s mountain biking at the 2016 Olympic Games; won a gold medal in the 2016 Under-23 World Cross-Country Championships.
Known for: Three-time Olympian; competed at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics in cross-country mountain bike racing; 10-time gold medal finisher in the Asian MTB Championships from 2009 to 2019.
Daniel McConnell and Rebecca McConnell
Ages: 35 and 29, respectively
Known for: Power cycling couple who both competed in mountain biking at the 2012 Summer Olympics; Daniel McConnell also competed at the 2008 Olympics, while Rebecca McConnell also competed at the 2016 Olympics; Daniel has eight National Championship titles to his name; Rebecca won bronze at the 2019 Mountain Bike World Championships.
Known for: Won three consecutive UCI World Under-23 Cross-Country Championship titles from 2012 to 2014; won silver at the 2019 UCI World Cross-Country Championships behind Pauline Ferrand-Prévot; won silver overall at the 2019 UCI Mountain Bike World Cup behind Kate Courtney.
Known for: Strong competitor in World Championship mountain bike and cross-country relay disciplines; won a gold medal in men’s overall and cross-country relay at the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships.
How to Watch Mountain Biking at the Olympics
Here’s the MTB discipline schedule for the Olympic Games:
- Men’s Mountain Bike: July 26, 15:00 Tokyo start (GMT+9, or 11 p.m. Pacific Time July 25/1 a.m. Central Time July 26)
- Women’s Mountain Bike: July 27, 15:00 Tokyo start (11 p.m. Pacific Time July 26/1 a.m. Central Time July 27)
More cycling to watch at the Olympics:
- Men’s Road Cycling: July 24
- Women’s Road Cycling: July 25
- BMX (men’s and women’s): July 29-August 1
- Track Cycling (men’s and women’s): August 2-8
Find the 2021 Olympics on NBC on cable, and Amazon, Apple, or Roku TV. Or, watch live and recorded Olympic competitions online.