We reported yesterday on Mathieu van der Poel's Olympic crash
after the 'training ramp' was removed from the Sakura rock drop on the Olympic mountain bike course in Japan and the same feature has made the headlines again today but for completely opposite reasons.
An overnight storm left the track slippery so the ramp was put back into the course today, allowing riders to roll the drop again. Longtime rivals Jolanda Neff and Pauline Ferrand-Prevot led the race in the first lap and the pair approached the ramp at high speed, Neff following closely behind Ferrand-Prevot. Just as both were committed to the ramp, Ferrand-Prevot braked before rolling it, while Neff was forced to drop off the side at low speed.
Jolanda was unhappy with the maneuver and criticized Ferrand Prevot in her post-race press conference:
Ferrand Prevot then had her own scare 20 seconds later when Neff passed her to the left on the uphill rock garden. She ended up tumbling into the race tape and lost about 30 seconds trying to get her bike back, and while she battled back up to third at one point, she eventually finished 10th.
After Ferrand-Prevot's crash, Neff was left on her own to pedal to victory
, eventually taking Switzerland's first women's Olympic gold by more than a minute and leading the first-ever sweep of the Olympic XC podium by a single country alongside fellow Swiss riders Sina Frei and Linda Indergand.
For Jolanda Neff, the race is the culmination of a long recovery from a crash in 2019
in which she ruptured her spleen and collapsed a lung. And just six weeks ago, she broke her hand
at the World Cup in Leogang. Still, like Tom Pidcock
in the men's Olympic field, she was able to overcome the setback to claim the title.