Everything We Know About the 2020 Tokyo Olympics XCO Mountain Bike Race

Feb 25, 2019
by James Smurthwaite  
When these rings shows everybody know something big and special is comming. It s the motiv why athletes train so hard and prepare themselfs four years to make their dreams come true.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics just over a year away, qualification will be at the forefront of riders' minds as we head through the 2019 season. Qualification criteria are starting to be released and the hype is starting to ramp up. Let's look at the challenge facing the riders when they head to East Asia next year.

Where will the race be held?

The original plan was for a purpose built, 25,000 capacity venue to be constructed on the man-made Sea Forest island in Tokyo Bay, however it was reportedly a casualty of budget cuts and the new venue of Izu was announced in late 2015. Izu is 120km south of Tokyo but is home to Japan's Cycle Sport Centre and will also host the track events in its velodrome. The athletes will be able to stay in the main village in Tokyo but there will also be satellite villages closer to the venue.


What will the track be like?

Izu currently has a mountain bike course with an elevation of 85 metres and a length of 2,500 metres, which will likely form the base for the Olympic circuit. The course was built in 2010 and features views of Mount Fuji as well as features designed for beginner and advanced cyclists.

Izu mountain bike park course map.

It was last used in a major race for both the 2013 and 2014 Japanese National championships. The men's race was won by Takeshi Keisuke while Eri Norie Erikatsu won the women's.

A highlight video of the race is below. The race was run before the venue was announced as the Olympic track and renovations will be taking place to raise it to Olympic standards before next year. Racing starts at 3 minutes.


We should know more about the course in October, after the Tokyo 2020 test event. Expect most of the top World Cup riders to be there testing out the course and starting their preparations for racing it the year after.

All-night long rain changed the condition on the course. After three days of dust the layer of sticky mud had to be removed less than 2 hours before the start.
Plenty of renovations are due on the proposed course. A storm in Rio meant renovation was being done just hours before the race.

Extra Information

- The races are currently scheduled to take place on Saturday 8 August (women’s race) and Sunday 9 August (men’s race). Average temperatures for the region at the time can be higher than 30°C with humidity around 80%.
- This will be the seventh inclusion of mountain biking in the Olympic Games, the first was Atlanta in 1996.
- Reigning champions are Nino Schurter (Switzerland) and Jenny Rissveds (Sweden).
- There have been two double Olympic winners - France's Julien Absalon (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 ) and Italy's Paola Pezzo (Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 ).

Nino Schurter having fun even at the most important race of the four years.
Nino put on a masterclass in Rio.


Posted In:
Industry News



59 Comments

  • 134 6
 Man, the course has everything! 5 rocks! 2 roots! 3 uphill tabletops! A paved bike path! I'm already breathless with excitement.
  • 38 1
 Says right in the article "renovations will be taking place to raise the track to Olympic standards", but I'm pretty sure PB got it wrong and should have read "raze the track to Olympic standards." So say goodbye to those rocks.
  • 6 10
flag mnorris122 (Feb 25, 2019 at 14:52) (Below Threshold)
 It's the Leogang of XC circuits. Not necessarily a bad thing, just different. I assume they'll be throwing in some actual jumps and some fake rock gardens.
  • 19 2
 @smithcreek: I interpreted "raise the track to Olympic standards" to mean "install a bunch of bleachers so that thousands of people can be milked for $150 / head to catch a glimpse of some poor soul collapsing from the boredom of riding that track."
  • 2 0
 @toast2266: in Rio tickets for the XCO event started for less $20 than considering the USD/BRL currency.
  • 18 1
 Looks like it could be a good cyclocross course
  • 17 21
flag ivankvkharkiv (Feb 25, 2019 at 23:06) (Below Threshold)
 toast2266, maybe you have misread something, but it is XC race. Not Ecnduro, not DH, not 4X.
It should consist of a lot of pedaling, no big drops, no big rocks and so on.
XC races are extremely hard in their own way and they should be like they are. The only question is whether you interested in XC or not.
But maybe I misunderstood your comment. Smile
  • 14 0
 @ivankvkharkiv: that's not true if you look at how xc courses have been evolving over last few seasons and also how capable even race level xc bikes are.
  • 7 1
 @ivankvkharkiv: perhaps you're the one who misread something. This is a mountain bike race. If you just want to watch someone hate f*ck their pedals for a couple hours, watch a road race. Plenty of xc races have good courses.
  • 90 0
 Rumours have it that a bike with a complete XTR 12spd drivetrain may be ready in time for this event!
  • 6 1
 The Sylence Hub might just be available by then!
  • 4 3
 Xtr coming late march, US shop Erik's was given 5 groupsets earlier this month to sell (idk why,maybe bc largest independent bike retailer.)
  • 76 1
 I just hope that Sagan competes again.
  • 11 10
 So he can get lapped by MvdP?
  • 3 4
 I hope specialized use better tyres than in Rio. Flat out flatted out.
  • 3 3
 @gcrider: Technique.
  • 37 3
 Looks like a shitty cyclocross track
  • 24 1
 wow, cx tracks are better than this!
  • 1 0
 Considering the snooze fest that the CX Champs course was this year this course is only marginally more technical.
  • 24 1
 i'm getting kinda fed up of landscaped Olympic xc courses, these xc riders need a challenge, give us some natural gnarly xc racing!
  • 27 0
 The Olympics are obsessed with their 100% TV coverage, which means the tracks will always look like that so the camera crews can easily get in and out and have their wide shots. It's also why downhill should never, ever become an Olympic sport.
  • 6 0
 @Fix-the-Spade: yeah that's the unfortunate truth, although both wc xc and dh are televised and there are some sick courses out there!
  • 17 0
 I am just so thankful there is an XC article on pinkbike! Thanks PB!
  • 16 2
 the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix might be more of a challenge for a mtb than this! Cyclocross for the win?!?
  • 13 0
 Excellent write up - hoping for info on the Oylmpic Whip - Off next
  • 13 2
 This is BS!!! If they are trying to represent contemorary mt biking, they would be riding 160mm AM rigs on those trails.
  • 1 0
 I actually guffawed. Bravo.
  • 8 0
 Huh. Go Kate!
  • 10 3
 Wont see olympic DH until 2069 Frown
  • 57 16
 Let's hope we never see it.
  • 11 2
 nah probably not til 20420
  • 24 8
 @cole-bummer: Umm..definitely not, as 2069 won’t be an Olympic Year.
  • 11 5
 @MaN-oF-STeEL: you don't not pass go, you do not collect 200 dolla.
  • 8 1
 But there is light sabering in the Olympics this year
  • 1 0
 @hyperider: Really?! i feel like i should know about this
  • 5 0
 @da-yeti: wait til you hear about the break dancing in Paris... 2028 will also see shark jumping welcomed to the Olympic family. Presuming the year 2028 happens.
  • 9 1
 @BenPea: Social Justice should eb a sport by then. I am going for Gold in triggering.
  • 8 6
 Here we go again! course is rubbish, not high enough, no long climbs etc etc. (the riders make the race, just like Worlds Cyclo cross event that just happened - that course had a bit of a slagging before hand!)
Same things where said for London, but that WAS A GREAT RACE/EVENT!
Yes the venue needs to be TV friendly, but there are many other things that can be done to make it TV friendly.
Like there was no tape/stakes used to mark out the course, they used bright colour brush side of the course. lot better for viewing.

Also Olympics events is also about been "legacy" as in the venue to be used AFTER the Olympics to encourage people into sport/keep fit etc. So if the venue is a bit closer to a city and less in the middle of the wild wood/forest/mountain to get more people into the sport afterwards, it is fine by me.

Last thing I know of the main guy who is incharge over there in Tokyo, he has been involved in MTB ride/racing for a VERY long time, putting on & help running GREAT great events here in the UK. He was also involved with London and Rio, so I be sure the course will test the riders in fitness and skills.
  • 4 0
 Legacy! Have you been to hadleigh farm lately? It’s so shit even the f*cking bike shop closed down!!
  • 1 0
 @billythegerbil: Yes I did hear the bike shop was closing/closed, but that was more to local council wacking the rates up, state of high street retail at the mo. (there a couple of other bike shop close by as well that still open) Also think the shop is run separate to the venue (thou they hope to get biz from people using the venue)

The venue it self is still doing well, Army was there the other day doing skills/training, plenty of races are still there, with R1 of Eastern Region Series XC race been there a couple of days ago.
And "go-ride" events are been held there still. (Go ride are fun events for Kids)
  • 3 0
 Well dont hold your breath it is not till next year, but maybe they will built some fake mountains for Olympic mountain bike race?
  • 6 1
 Is Nair the primary sponsor?
  • 4 0
 Race video: "Sit and be fit."
  • 3 0
 2020 are we not supposed to be on anti gravity hover bikes racing on Mars by now?
Holy wood lied to me!
  • 3 0
 May as well just have a virtual bike race with a big screen and spinning bikes, it would be about as technical...
  • 3 0
 Thought the first picture was some fancy Chocolate bars!
  • 3 1
 Finally Canadians will dominate another sport other than Ice Hockey in the Olympics......jk my Northern friends.
  • 1 0
 Whaddya mean? We beat them in that too! Wink (oops, too far? Razz )
  • 2 0
 @Naturel: So if you get beaten by trash, then what does that say about you? (I jest, everybody knows CA hockey is generally better
  • 3 0
 A solid green but we marked it blue due to elevation gain.
  • 2 0
 This doesn't look like nearly as cool a course as the world cup ones
  • 2 0
 That's got to be the stiffest bum whip i've ever seen
  • 1 0
 'Mountain biking' on a track with 85m of elevation, whilst enjoying a view of Mt Fuji... Poor bastards...
  • 1 0
 Peter Sagan gonna give it a go again ?
  • 1 0
 Slow news day today? This race is like 1.5 years away...
  • 1 0
 Was in those mountains over New Years. Beautiful area.
  • 5 6
 Not many XC racers styling a whip like Schurter.
  • 4 1
 Not many racers*
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