Mathieu van der Poel left the Tour de France before the first rest day, after wearing the race-leader’s yellow jersey for the better part of a week.
The Dutch star rider on the road— and a three-time world cyclocross champion — jetted from France to Japan to prepare for the Tokyo Olympic Games men’s cross-country mountain bike event.
While “MVDP’s” preparations were dialed in, his knowledge of the course was not; he was unaware that a ramp was removed from a rock jump, and as a result, he crashed on the very first lap.
Unfazed by the change in the composition of the race, Tom Pidcock of Great Britain, also a cycling multi-disciplinary master, raced from the front to win a gold medal in his first Olympic appearance.
It was great to have fans back at an event. Mountain biking was one of only three venues to allow fans during the Olympic Games.
Several thousand fans came out to the Izu Mountain bike park, and lined the finishing straight to cheer riders.
A Japanese fan waited patiently for the start.
Fans in traditional Japanese dress came to check out the race.
An overlook of the beautiful Izu Mountain Bike Park, with the velodrome and finish in the background to the left.
Riders fought for the lead as they leave the starting line.
Riders took on the first climb on the initial, big lap.
Mathias Flueckinger lead the field out of the rock garden on the first big lap.
The big jump that claimed van der Poel early in the race.
Christopher Blevins with big air on the jump.
Chris Blevins lead on one of the short steep climbs on the course.
Blevins launched off the big jump that claimed van der Poel earlier.
Blevins blasted through the rock garden.
Mathias Flueckinger lead riders over the logs on the early laps.
Pidcock lead riders over the big jump, launching off a 10-foot high pile of boulders.
Pidcock rolled fast on the final lap as he headed for the gold medal.
With excellent access for fans, a young photographer captured the riders on course.
An exhausted but happy Tom Pidcock in the mixed zone interviews after the race.