How & When to Watch Mountain Biking at the Tokyo Olympics - Pinkbike Primer

Jul 22, 2021
by Ed Spratt  
The big goal is achieved Nino Schurter is the olympic winner

After some incredible World Cup racing, it is now time for the biggest MTB race of the year as some of the top XC racers head to Tokyo to fight for a gold medal.

So what can we expect to see from the games in Tokyo? Next week will see Loana Lecomte looking to build upon her nearly unprecedented dominance of the Women's field. Mathieu Van Der Poel also returns to XC racing after his hugely successful stint in the Tour De France. The course in Tokyo could be one of the toughest riders face with the test event taking out some riders with either injuries or mechanicals. Temperatures and humidity are high in Tokyo right now making it an even tougher challenge for the World's best.

The track

The course in Tokyo provides plenty of challenges for the rider with rocks, jumps and drops spread across the course. Riders found it challenging at the test event with more than a few injuries and mechanicals. We aren't sure if there were changes to the course since the test event, but it still looks like a great challenge for the racers fighting for the Olympic gold medal.

Graphic from

Here are some drone videos from a local news organization.

What Happened at the Last World Cup?

The last round of the XC World Cup is Les Gets provided one of the toughest challenges for the riders with an already technical course made even trickier by a lot of rain and mud. It was Loana Lecomte and Mathias Flueckiger who bested the conditions, but it was not an easy race for anyone.

Previous Olympic Winners


Elite Men: Nino Schurter
Elite Women: Jenny Rissveds


Elite Men: Jaroslav Kulhavý
Elite Women: Julie Bresset


Elite Men: Julien Absalon
Elite Women: Sabine Spitz


Elite Men: Julien Absalon
Elite Women: Gunn-Rita Dahle


Elite Men: Miguel Martinez
Elite Women: Paola Pezzo


Elite Men: Bart Brentjens
Elite Women: Paola Pezzo

See the complete entry list for the Tokyo Olympics here.

Jenny Rissveds from Sweden rode smoothly and fast through the Rockgarden. Even she had a crash eariler in the week and has 4 stitches on the elbon and 6 on her knee.

Weather forecast

The weather is looking very hot and humid for the riders next week, with a high chance that things may get slippery with a thunderstorm predicted for Tuesday morning.

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.
Monday, July 26 - Men's Race
Cloudy with a few showers in the afternoon // 33°C // 73% precipitation // wind 15km/h

Tuesday, July 27 - Women's Race
A thunderstorm in the morning; otherwise, clouds giving way to some sun and humid, becoming breezy in the afternoon // 32°C // 51% precipitation // wind 20km/h

Weather forecast as of Thursday, July 22 from Accuweather.

How to watch

The Olympic XC racing is set to start on Monday with the Men's racing kicking things off before the Women take to the course on Tuesday. Check out the timings and where you can watch below.

Monday, July 26
• 23:00 PDT / 2:00 EDT / 7:00 BST / 8:00 CEST // Men's Olympic XC

Tuesday, July 27
• 23:00 PDT / 2:00 EDT / 7:00 BST / 8:00 CEST // Women's Olympic XC

See what time the events will be taking place in your city using


To watch the Olympics on TV in the US, you’ll need access to the television networks of NBCUniversal. To stream it online, check out the NBC Sports app,, and Peacock.


The Seven Network has broadcast rights in Australia. You’ll be able to catch all the action on TV via Channel Seven, 7mate, and 7Two, and livestreaming is available via 7Plus.


To watch in Canada, you’ll want to check out national broadcaster CBC/Radio-Canada. CBC Television has TV coverage, while CBC Gem, the CBC Olympic site, and mobile app will have live streaming.


There are two host broadcasters in the UK: the BBC and Eurosport. BBC is a free option, and will include content on BBC TV, BBC Red Button, BBC iPlayer, plus the BBC Sport website and app. Eurosport is a paid option and can be accessed both via TV and via live-streaming options.

You can view a full list of broadcasters here. Cycling Tips have a fully detailed breakdown for all the other cycling event at this year's Olympic games here.

Note: Please check for broadcast times with your local provider.

Pinkbike Predictions

There was brief moment were Loana seemed to be struggling in the deteriorating conditions but bounced back in a huge way in the later laps.

In the Men's race, we have put Mathieu Van Der Poel as our top pick, following his huge success in the early stages of the Tour De France Mathieu pulled out earlier than plan to fully prepare for the games. If Mathieu is fully recovered and used to racing XC again, then we think he will take the Olympic gold. In second place we would put Mathias Flueckiger, who has had an incredible season so far and now sits number one in the UCI XC World rankings. Mathias is a fan of technical courses so he will be right at home in Tokyo, but we have not seen him go up against Mathieu Van Der Poel since the first two races of the year. Our third pick for the men is Tom Pidcock. Just like Mathieu Van Der Poel, Tom missed a few World Cups this year and he had a tricky time in Les Gets after coming back from a big injury. If Tom can match his incredible speed from Nove Mesto earlier this year then he will be one of the top riders next week.

In the women's field, it would be pretty hard to bet against Loana Lecomte. Loana has won every World Cup race this year by some pretty big margins and won the French National Champs by over one and a half minutes on Pauline Ferrand Prevot. Pauline has had a slower start to the season than normal, but she has been building her training for the Olympics. We wouldn't be surprised to see her back at the very top, but Loana is carrying a lot of momentum and confidence into this year's biggest race. The current Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds is our pick for third place as she has seen results improve over the season to take second place in the tough last World Cup race in Les Gets.

1 // Mathieu VAN DER POEL
2 // Mathias FLUECKIGER
3 // Tom PIDCOCK
1 // Loana LECOMTE
3 // Jenny RISSVEDS


  • 18 1
 That drop is super unlike what they'd normally do in XC right? I know a lot of them ride all sorts of terrain but I don't remember seeing that kind of feature.
  • 10 0
 That's a big buck with your seat in your navel ...
  • 30 0
 I'd be making excuses for avoiding hitting that on an Enduro bike let alone an XC race bike. Fair play to them.
  • 5 0
 A good number of the athletes have been practicing small road-gaps the last two weeks in preparation for that feature.
  • 5 2
 Nope they typically have much bigger drops then these days in world cup.
  • 5 0
 Yeah, from athlete interviews after the test event in 2019 a lot of them were saying its the most technical, physically demanding course out there. They have hit similar stuff but its not very common at all. XC has been trending that direction in the past 5ish years but Tokyo seems to have stepped it up a notch in regards to bigger, high-risk technical stuff.
  • 5 0
 That's normal on the harder courses now. Your local race might not be as technical but the World Cup and the top local series in Europe have comparable features.
  • 1 0
 Based on Kate Courtney's IG, it looks like they've installed a wooden ramp on the drop. Shame.
  • 2 0
 @BigAlfonz: I don’t this any of the riders will touch that during the race. My guess would be it’s there for riders experiencing mechanical issues.
  • 20 1
 @mikelevy is so mad about the predictions right now.
  • 11 0
 Would love to see a surprise from Nino.
  • 5 0
 I think Mike just downvoted your comment Smile
  • 1 0
 lol, MVDP all the way
  • 20 1
 $20 Tim Hortons card says Nino wins gold.
  • 5 0
 @mikelevy: I hope you're right for once bud.
(actually twice. That mini was a righteous choice)
  • 14 0
 I'm putting my money on Jenny Rissveds and Tom Pidcock
  • 2 0
 It's an interesting one, because of the temperature and humidity plus the timezone difference. Rissveds certainly has proven to be able to excel in these conditions. Pidcock had a less than optimal buildup because of an injury, but only a fool would count him out. I think odds are working against MvdP, but history shows he is quite capable of beating odds. He also has a less than optimal buildup because of that little race in France. It amazed me he chose to fly in relatively last minute, but that could also be a gamble working out really well. A lot of the others have more time to get used to the conditions, but because of the covid measures, also in a sort of confined situation.
  • 6 0
 @jeroenk: MvdP will be completely rested for the race that's not a problem, what i've heard in other media is that the track is too technical for him when compared to other riders like Nino or Pidcock.

It is going to be an amazing race that's for sure.
  • 2 0
 Tom Pidcock did not disappoint. Come on Jenny !
  • 8 0
 Excited for this and the BMX (plus skateboarding now). This track kind of looks like something the Teletubbies built next to their house, but good to see more challenging obstacles.
  • 9 0
 I think the argument could be made that a dropper post would be beneficial for this track.
  • 6 0
 Kudos to the course builders. So much single track, off-camber lines, tough man-made rock gardens, and climbs, climbs, climbs.
  • 7 0
 I can't help it, but so many of the Olympic XC courses remind me of Helltrack from RAD.
  • 4 0
 In the states both men's and women's races have full coverage on Peacock at midnight on the 26th and 27th respectfully. Road race on tomorrow night at 10:00pm. all times Mountain time for me in Idaho. This link incl. all cycling
  • 2 0
 Does it bother anyone else that a lot of the Olympic stuff is on premium pay channels only? Maybe in the UK we've been spoilt by the BBC but this year, I'm hearing that the only way to watch the MTB live is on Eurosport premium...I really hope I'm wrong - paying to watch the Olympics on TV is wrong!
  • 3 0
 Anyone know if in the US you will need the premium version of peacock to stream the race on-demand?
  • 1 0
 Best I can tell it won't be available on Peacock period unless they have some coverage in the highlights, it's hard to say for sure though. Seems like you need some form of cable login to stream the whole race. Anyone else able to confirm?
  • 1 0
 I have Peacock subscription from watching the Tour but when I looked at the coverage page icons I did not see mountain biking. This was a few days ago so I am hoping NBC fixes this terrible oversight!
  • 2 0
 When do we get to see the super double secret New Shimano. Wireless? 13spd? Unobtanium?
  • 1 0
 Maybe Shimano will sneak some new stuff in at the Olympics.
  • 1 0
 Watching last Olympics at Les Gets, and the this years World Cup at Les Gets i find myself wondering why do we keep hosting big events in that mudpit?
  • 1 0
 Olympics in Les Gets?
  • 3 0
 Soundtrack on the Japanese videos were FIRE!!
  • 1 0
 The GCN+ app has the races live and on demand afterwards... During the Rio Olympice the UCI also had the races on their YouTube channel.
  • 2 3
 The choons on those 3 drone vids are f****** sick. Got me so pumped to go ride. F***YEAH MO FOS!
*Throws the horns in the air and head bangs.
  • 1 0
 Where can I watch it in Argentina?
  • 1 0
 Holy fuck what a brutal course judging by the video.
  • 1 1
 What is this, a grass slalom??
  • 1 0
 Somebody needs Deodorant
  • 1 2
 less how and when more like why?
  • 1 2
 11pm Pacific time? I go to sleep at 9:27pm every night.
  • 2 3
 is it me or they will bottom out everywhere ?
  • 2 0
 I mean...its a XC race but do they have to race an XC bike? bust out the trail/enduro bike!
  • 2 0
 @SATN-XC: Suddenly the new Spark looks damn good!!!
  • 3 6
 Until we get DH in the Olympics, IDGAF BROH
  • 1 0
 Can't have DH there. What happens when it rains half way through the runs? Olympics supposed to be level playing field
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