According to the organisers of the Rio2016 test event that took place yesterday, “Competitors and organisers declared themselves delighted with the outcome of the Rio 2016 mountain bike test event at Deodoro Olympic Park on Sunday. An exciting course and good organisation were highlighted, with only the hot spring weather causing some discomfort among a field featuring many of the world’s leading mountain bikers.”
“We are extremely satisfied,” said Peter van den Abeele, head of off-road at the International Cycling Union (UCI). “The course was really well delivered and we only received positive comments. I was very involved in the London Games, which were excellent, and I thought it would be very difficult for upcoming organisers to do better. But after seeing this (the Rio course), it will be way better than London, so congratulations.”
Here’s a lightning tour of the trail with the designer Nick Floros. It features a lot of technical features and, as you’ll see from the photo above, some pretty committing moves if you want the fast line.
Paul Davis, the Rio 2016 mountain bike manager who filled the same role at the London 2012 Games (and incidentally cut his teeth working on Mountain Mayhem courses over the years), was also in good spirits after the event at the Mountain Bike Centre. “It was amazing, the riders were super happy with everything we did, they loved the course,” said the Brit. “It’s got big climbs, technical features and it’s fast. The Rio 2016 team was excellent and I couldn’t ask for more. Now we’ll sit down with the UCI and address some small issues, but I think we’re 99 per cent there. We just need a few tweaks, but it’s truly special.”
The men’s race (seven laps of the 5.4km course) had an exciting sprint finish, with Switzerland’s Nino Schurter, the reigning world champion, taking gold in one hour, 20 minutes and 36 seconds, just ahead of France’s Maxime Marotte and Italy’s Andrea Tiberi. France’s Julien Absalon, the Beijing 2008 and Athens 2004 Olympic champion who has also won five world titles and is the current world no.1, finished just off the podium in fourth place. London 2012 Olympic champion Jaroslav Kulhavy of the Czech Republic did not complete the course.
The women’s race, which comprised six laps, was won by Italy’s Eva Lechner in one hour, 20 minutes and 13 seconds, with Poland’s Maja Wloszczowska taking silver and Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds grabbing bronze. Legendary Norwegian Gunn-Rita Dahle Flesjaa did not finish, while world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prévot, of France, also did not start.
“I enjoyed the race a lot, the course is really nice, for the riders and for public,” said Lechner, the world no.10. Wloszczowska, the current world no.5 and Beijing 2008 silver medallist, was also impressed by the track, saying: “It has everything – shorts climbs, long climbs, technical climbs, technical descents that are a very nice to ride. It’s a lot of fun for the riders.” The Pole said the organisation of the event was “perfect” and agreed that the Brazilian weather would be one of the main challenges for European riders, who would need to pace themselves and stay well hydrated.
There were three Brits racing and a not particularly delighted BC Spokesman said: “…Alice Barnes finished in 23rd, Phillip Pearce also finished 23rd while Grant Ferguson failed to finish.”
Story and photos from the rio2016.com website.