Strong fields to contest Olympic mountain bike titles
The Mountain Bike competition at the Rio Olympic Games has the strongest fields in recent memory for both men and women. The women will race on Saturday, August 20th, and the men on Sunday, the final day of the Games.
The Rio track suffered a scare early in the week, when a brush fire started nearby, but luckily it was brought under control and the track was not impacted in any way. The 4.85 kilometre course is at the Deodoro venue in the X-Park, along with BMX and Canoe Slalom.
The man-made circuit incorporates many of the design features that made the London course both spectator and television-friendly, and includes one longer climb plus a series short, steep power climbs. Multiple rock gardens and drops will keep riders on their toes. Both women and men will do a start loop, and it is expected women will do six laps and men seven.
The women's field has great depth, with the medal favourites including world champion Annika Langvad (Denmark), Jolanda Neff (Switzerland), Catharine Pendrel (Canada) and Jenny Rissveds (Sweden). All four are World Cup winners this season. Others with podium potential include Emily Batty (Canada), Sabine Spitz (Germany), Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) and Katerina Nash (Czech Republic).
In the men's field, expect to see the continuing season-long battle between world champion Nino Schurter (Switzerland), two-time Olympic champion Julien Absalon (France) and defending Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy (Czech Republic). Other podium threats are Maxime Marotte (France), Victor Koretzky (France) and Mathias Fluckiger (Switzerland). And, of course, Peter Sagan (Slovakia), the current world road champion and winner of the Points Jersey at the Tour de France, who decided to race mountain bike rather than road as these Olympics.