Great Britain’s Tom Pidcock produced the performance of his young career to become the Olympic mountain bike champion at the Tokyo Games on Monday.
The 21-year-old from Leeds broke into a solo lead well inside the first half of the multi-lap race at the Izu Mountain Bike course and put in a near-flawless ride to take Britain’s third gold medal of a magical Monday of Olympic action.
Team GB have enjoyed huge success on two wheels at the Olympic Games over the past two decades, winning multiple medals on the track and the road, but a British rider had never before taken mountain bike gold.
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But Pidcock looked the favourite to reach the line first early in a frantic race, holding on to cross the line in a time of 1:25:14, with enough of a gap ahead of his closest chaser that he had time to grab a flag to brandish as he crossed the line.
Pidcock had been earmarked as a medal contender in a strong field prior to the race in Japan, and an early crash for pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel saw one of his rivals for the medals forced out of the race.
Switzerland’s Mathias Fluckiger and Spain’s David Valero, both 11 years Pidcock’s senior, took silver and bronze.
"It doesn’t sound real really," he said immediately after his winning performance. "It’s pretty crazy that I became an Olympian and I was trying to tell myself at the start of the race it’s special just to be here."

'It never looked in doubt' - Wiggins hails Pidcock after mountain bike gold

Pidcock is one of a new wave of uber-talented multi-discipline talents in cycling, having already achieved notable success in cyclo-cross, mountain biking and on the road prior to his trip to Tokyo.
The youngster joined road cycling team Ineos Grenadiers earlier this year, linking up with a squad containing the likes of former Tour de France champions Geraint Thomas and Egan Bernal and 2020 Giro d’Italia winner Tao Geoghegan Hart.
And he enjoyed an impressive start to his road career, putting in a string of strong performances in the one-day Spring Classics, beating celebrated stars Wout van Aert and Matteo Trentin in a sprint finish to his first professional win at Brabantse Pijl in April.
Pidcock switched focus to Mountain Biking following the spring calendar, showing form that put him firmly among the favourites for gold in Tokyo, despite breaking his collar bone in a training crash in June.
He was back on his bike just six days after that crash, and revealed that the racing in Tokyo is his first competitive action since.

'It's not real!' - Pidcock stunned after 'crazy' gold medal in mountain bike

"I haven’t done a good race since. I’ve trained really hard, I knew I was in great shape but there’s always doubt when I haven’t performed in a race," he said.
"The heat, I mean, obviously I didn’t feel good but everyone just told me no-one will feel good. But once the race started, I knew I was in a good place."
But few could have expected a performance of such mature and dominant quality from the 21-year-old in Tokyo, as he secured Britain’s third gold medal of the Tokyo Olympics, following hot on the heels of Adam Peaty in the pool and the 10m synchronised pair of Tom Daley and Matty Lee.
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