Social Roundup: First Look at the Olympic MTB Course - Tokyo 2020 Test Event

Oct 5, 2019
by Sarah Moore  

The Olympic mountain bike race is a little under ten months away and you can bet that timeline is on the minds of the world's top cross-country mountain bikers and their coaches. Some have already qualified for the Olympics with their results in the 2019 World Cup season and at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Championships, while others have to wait until the Spring to find out whether they've met the Qualification criteria and will have the chance to represent their countries on the world's biggest sporting stage.

This Sunday, a select few will have the chance to compete in the Test Event on the Izu Mountain Bike course in Japan. The course is 4km in length with a vertical interval of 180 meters and will be raced during the Olympics on Monday, July 27, 2020 by the world's fastest male cross-country riders and Tuesday, July 28, 2020 by their female counterparts. Check out all the behind the scenes action on social media as riders get to see the course they hope their Olympic dreams will play out on for the very first time.

Nino Schurter:

The eight-time World Champion, who also won the gold medal in mountain biking at the 2016 Olympics, the silver medal 2012 Olympics and the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics says the "jumps, drops, rock gardens and steeeeep uphills will make it challenging for everyone".

Nino will be one of the favorites next summer but he will face stiff competition from Mathieu Van Der Poel who nearly won the World Cup overall this year despite missing 2 rounds. One skinny-tired crossover Schurter won't have to worry about is Peter Sagan, who today confirmed he won't be targetting Olympic qualification for the mountain biking as he did in Rio 2016.

Jolanda Neff:

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Jolanda Neff was a favourite for a medal at the last Olympic Games in Rio in 2016, but she finished a disappointing 6th. She'll be a favourite once again heading into the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Here she is getting her first taste of the Olympic course with the rest of the Swiss team.

Simon Burney

The UCI's Simon Burney was the first to catch some riders on track, including a rider jumping over Mount Fuji.

Pauline Ferrand Prevot

The World Champion enjoying the peaceful atmosphere in Japan while wearing the French team kit for one last race this season.

Haley Smith:

Haley Smith hasn't qualified yet, but she had a third place in Nove Mesto this season so we wouldn't be surprised to see her securing one of the two spots that Team Canada will likely have. She says the course is "STEEP, unforgiving, and visually daunting/impressive."

Maja Wloszczowska:

Maja finished second to Jenny Rissveds at the Rio 2016 Olympics but seems a bit wary of the 2020 course. "XC course gonna be a huge challenge. Extremely steep climbs followed with rocky downhills. I have to admit that I’ve never (and I’m racing over 20 years) seen such a demanding lap. Both - physically and technically."

Kate Courtney:

Kate Courtney has qualified for the 2020 Olympics already with her 5th place at the Mont-Sainte-Anne World Championships, so you can bet she'll be structuring her training around the event in the coming year.

Sina Frei:

The top two countries in the nation ranking have three Olympic spots. Currently, that means Switzerland and the USA could have three athletes competing for the gold medal in the women's race. Sina Frei is likely to be one of those three athletes.

Jaroslav Kulhavy:

Jaroslav Kulhavy has had a bit of a lackluster season, but we're sure he's hoping he gets the chance to race in his fourth Olympics. He won gold in London and silver in Rio.

Anton Cooper:

Anton Cooper finding some of Japan's gems.

Lars Forster:

After an injury at the beginning of the season, Lars Forster battled back and won the last World Cup race of the season in Snowshoe. He'll want to be one of the three riders represting Switzerland next July alongside his Scott-SRAM teammate Nino Schurter. Here he looks at a drop feature.

Ondrej Cink

Two-time Olympian and top-ranked Czech male rider Ondrej Cink says the "course is quite interesting with a lot of rocks sections and steep climbs!"

Leandre Bouchard:

The Canadian rider will be hoping for a second chance at representing Canada next year. Here he is on the course walk with 2016 bronze medallist in the women's race, Catharine Pendrel, Haley Smith, Peter Disera and the Canadian support team.

Here are some drone videos from a local news organization.

Who will it be on Sunday? Who will it be next July?

1. Jenny Rissveds SWE 2. Maja Wloszczowska POL 3. Catherine Pendrel CAN .
Rio 2016 Women's MTB Podium: 1. Jenny Rissveds (SWE), 2. Maja Wloszczowska (POL), 3. Catherine Pendrel (CAN).
2016 Rio Olympic XC Men s podium.
Rio 2016 Men's MTB Podium: 1. Nino Schurter (SUI), 2. Jaroslav Kulhavy (CZE), 3. Carlos Nicolas Coloma (SPA)

Author Info:
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Member since Mar 30, 2011
1,197 articles

  • 99 1
 this course is japan AF
  • 21 1
 The Japanese sure don't disappoint! Well, except for that one time....
  • 11 0
 Japan AF you say...... I'm all ears....
  • 2 6
flag pushingbroom (Oct 4, 2019 at 19:08) (Below Threshold)
 @Ron-C: Even that one time they didn't disappoint ...
  • 2 0
 That red bridge did disappoint somewhat. It is red alright but for it to be proper Japanese AF it needs to be curved. Not necessarily curved AF but definitely curved.
  • 76 2
 looks like a mini-golf course
  • 63 1
 This will be like biking in a gnarly botanical garden I was expecting no less from Japan, I love it!
  • 38 1
 Olympic XC is the new Upduro
  • 21 0
 I think "Upduro" could sell some bikes.
  • 14 0
 @nosmallplans: now I need to convince my wife I need a downcountry bike and an upduro bike. Don’t forget the downhill and enduro and XC bike. Oh and the pumptrack and dirt jump bikes. Damn I forgot about the road bike and the tri bike and the CX bike. And i need a zwift smart trainer for those snowy winter days....
  • 4 0
 @Mattysville: don't forget a fat bike
  • 4 0
 @arrowheadrush @Mattysville: And a gravel bike
  • 24 7
 @Mattysville: Wait for it.







/Flame suit on
  • 1 0
 @Mattysville: Don't forget an endurance bike, an adventure bike, a trials bike, a flatbar road bike, and a fatbike for the snowy days ;]
  • 1 0
 @Mattysville: Also super-enduro
  • 1 0
 So what are the specific differences between upduro bike and downcountry bike? Lol.
  • 7 0
 Volcano specific speed record bike.
  • 3 0
 @Mattysville: last but not least, a penny-farthing
  • 1 0
 @Mattysville: And a gravel bike, single speed and adventure bike.
  • 7 0
 The upduro is .01 degrees steeper at the head tube and seat tube for added climbing ability. The downcountry bike has a coil shock for charging the flow gnar. @tacklingdummy:
  • 1 0
 @Mattysville: and a cruiser
  • 2 0
 @Mattysville: .1 degrees is worlds apart. They will ride totally different. Better get both bikes.
  • 1 0
 How can you not have a pub bike and a BMX (race, dirt, flatland, trials, street and maybe one for the Huffy Toss).
  • 1 0
 Don't forget grass track racing, bike polo, artistic cycling, and a cycle-ball.
  • 3 0
 @nosmallplans: Don't forget dirt bikes. Nothing does "Upduro" like a 300 cc two-stroke motor.
  • 2 0
 @tacklingdummy: one is a downhiller’s xc bike and the other is a cross country rider’s downhill bike.
  • 2 1
 @tacklingdummy: Not familiar with upduro but it honestly sounds really cool to me. I love technical climbing and just as they got more technical descends at the XC races, I'd love to see more technical climbs too. But I understand it won't work at these crowded events as when one rider stalls it could mean loads of riders behind that will be walking up the hill, which is not what people want to see. But something like the enduro format where you have more room between the riders, I think it could work out. Maybe not something people will travel across the world for, but maybe one climbing stage at the EWS with proper technical climbing could be cool. From what I understand these bikes all climb like a capra so the equipment is already up to it.
  • 30 2
 I expected to see Hello Kitty characters all over the course.
  • 38 0
 Sumo wrestlers on fat bikes for the course preview
  • 17 0
 Punishing stations for people out of the top 10.
  • 9 0
 @mi-bike: this sounds like a call for Eddie Masters!
  • 1 0
 Oh damn that's funny.
  • 4 0
 @conv3rt: Eddie Masters vs Blake Samson course preview!
  • 15 7
 Someone needs to make a supercut of all the drops and jumps that these XC guys and girls do, and then that supercut needs to be shown to everyone who is about to purchase a long travel enduro bike.
  • 16 2
 Half of the reason I have a long travel bike is because the components are built to take the abuse of steeper trails and bigger features. XC wheels, tires, bars, stems, forks, frames, etc. all arent built to take the abuse in the long term.
  • 18 1
 These perfectly manicured landings would be totally fine to do on your average gravel bike. You get a long travel enduro bike so you can fully send into roots, ruts, chunder, and rocks. Also nice to have that squish when your flow is off and you eventually case something.
  • 4 0
 @pacificnorthwet: Well, if you don't weigh over 160 pounds, the XC bikes and components hold up pretty well.
  • 2 1
 @PapaStone: This.

Been running XC carbon hoops on my trail bike for a while, and xc alloy hoops before that. Ride with some finesse and that shit does last. Crash or botch something horrifically? Yeah I see broken flow rims all the time.
  • 2 0
 I weigh 200 pounds and I’m 6’3.5” tall. My last xc bike ended up with flow ex rims and a bunch of other parts that don’t belong on an xc bike. I gave up and bought an enduro bike. The enduro bike hasn’t needed much in the year I’ve owned it, I never could say that about my previous bike. I do miss the speed on the climbs, but I love the speed going down more. Typical pb rider probably.
  • 10 0
 Looks legit.
  • 1 0
 For now......
  • 8 0
 Looks a lot more challenging than Rio. I wish we could get XCO style courses with jumps and drops at XC races in the US!
  • 6 0
 So are they called stone gardens instead of rock gardens?
  • 28 0
 Zen gardens
  • 2 0
 Ornamental gardens.
  • 6 0
 Sick miniature golf course but where's the windmill?
  • 5 0
 This is going to be freakn Epic!
  • 5 0
 The chipping chunks out of the rock to add grip! Only in Japan Big Grin
  • 3 0
 @BCpov Love the series you & Yuka did from Japan.

@Everyone Else: If you haven't seen it BCpov & Van Girl Yuka did a 19 part series about riding in Japan.
Good watching.
  • 3 0
 That's more Enduro-ish than most of the trails in my country.. And to think they call it XC now.
I can't do half of this course.. (no technical skills whatsoever)
  • 4 0
 Carlos Coloma is Spanish not Mexican....
  • 2 0
 When you have a country full of beautiful natural terrain and you have to build artificial rock gardens... It seems like they have money to waste IMO
  • 4 0
 Most of their trails are hiking-only and not really rideable so revamping this course was probably cheaper.
  • 3 0
 Also has to have almost full camera coverage too for global broadcast, which unfortunately means little to no dense foilage.
  • 3 0
 Looks neat, will be interesting to see how it breaks in with some riding.
  • 2 0
 I got to spend a few weeks in Japan for work and it's an awesome country. I would love to ride there one day too.
  • 3 1
 The Gardner is going to need to take a moment of Zen when seeing the aftermath of a race on this course.
  • 3 0
 I’ll never complain about the music on PB again. Well, probably not.
  • 3 0
 The course looks like something out of Super Mario.
  • 1 0
 There will be a bonsai garden and the zen gravel pit will be raked after every pass. Quiet meditation is required as you ride the gravel pit.
  • 1 0
 It would be awsome if they were able to do the race the same way they do those crazy game shows, "Don't get Elminated".
  • 1 0
 I don't get the sod, guess it is better than gravel. Wonder is the men will be under 10 min laps?
  • 2 0
 I'm betting once the sod gets bedded in and rutted up after a bunch of runs, it will add some challenges. I kinda like it honestly, along with the over visual aesthetic of the course.
  • 1 0
 4km in under 10min on this course? Not even Nino! It'll be more like 12 to 14.
  • 2 0
 This is a legit proper course!
  • 1 0
 Wonder what it would be like if they raced through some trails in the woods?
  • 1 0
 Legit... I would up it a notch with a zen garden feature next to those drops.
  • 1 0
 Just need an obstacle to make it through Takeshi's Castle to top it all off, as shown in MXC.
  • 1 0
 Looks fun to ride and spectate!!
  • 1 0
 I can already picture Nino laying it out over Mt Fuji!!!!!
  • 3 0
 Wait 'til he & his mates get a snootful of Sake and drop trow in front of the Imperial Palace... Oh how the cherry blosooms will fly. [Sarc]
  • 2 1
 I actually have the xc filter on, but this course looks pretty sweet.
  • 1 1
 I wish they would do DownHill.. I mean, there's Downhill skiing in the winter Olympics .. and Dual Slalom!!
  • 1 0
 Looks like a zen garden with banzai trees. I wanna ride it.
  • 1 0
 Lars' photo looks steeeeeeeep.
  • 1 0
 Anyone know if there will be live coverage of the race?
  • 1 0
 I sure hope there's something of it to watch. This is about the last opportunity to see any XC Racing until late March when the Cape Epic kicks off
  • 3 0
 @Augustus-G: Still having a big problem finding any info regarding live stream, had the same problem with the marathon event a couple of weeks ago.... Red Bull it was not ! Just seen this, Nino sending the drop
  • 1 0
 Out come the downcountry bikes !
  • 1 0
 Did minigolf went Olympic ?
  • 1 1
 I would
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