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Tom Pidcock won Great Britain’s third Olympic gold of the Tokyo Games with a dominant performance in the men’s mountain bike cross-country.
The 21-year-old from Leeds moved into the lead midway through the race and never relinquished it as he finished ahead of Swiss world number one Mathias Flueckiger and David Valero of Spain to take Britain’s first gold in the sport.
Pidcock’s win came two months after he broke a collarbone in training.
He was back on his bike six days after surgery, declaring that he would win in Tokyo.
He prepared for the soaring temperatures by training in a heated tent at home and that paid off as he handled the punishing course and conditions far better than the field, finishing 20 seconds clear.
Such was his dominance that he was able to unfurl a union jack and wave it as he crossed the finish line.
Pidcock said: “I’m always better when I take control myself. I take my own lines, my own speed. Once we started I was fine, all the nerves kind of went and I concentrated on the race.
“It’s nothing like any other race. The Olympics just transcends any sport. You compete and represent your country and everyone in your country is behind you, no matter in what sports they like. It’s just national pride, it’s unbelievable.”
Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel led the mountain biking race in the opening stages before crashing out in dramatic fashion.
He later tweetedexternal-link there had originally been a plank on the other side of the rock where he was expecting to land after a jump.
Pidcock added an Olympic title to a long and diverse list of accolades, having won world titles in cyclo-cross, road and mountain bike events at under-23 level.
“I’ve trained really hard, I knew I was in great shape, but there’s always doubt when I haven’t performed in a race,” said Pidcock, who rides on the road for Ineos Grenadiers.
“I have high expectations on myself but I delivered.”
‘Tom could win Grand Tours – his future is wide open’
Pidcock is the first Briton to win an Olympic medal of any kind in mountain biking, with GB’s previous best a fifth place by Liam Killen at Athens 2004.
He turns 22 on Friday, and is now the youngest Olympic mountain bike champion, breaking the record set by Sweden’s Jenny Rissveds at Rio 2016 by 79 days.
His long-term coach at Ineos, Kurt Bogaerts, called the gold medal achievement “mission impossible” after the training accident in June.external-link And Bogaerts told BBC Sport that Pidcock’s future is “wide open” with potential to win Classics and Grand Tours in road racing.
“It’s a bit unreal what he did with the circumstances we were dealing with after his crash,” Bogaerts said.
“For me, it’s a big achievement for Tom in his career and it will be a milestone. For me personally, working with an athlete like Tom, you get a lot of return, not only with results, but also respect. He’s a very special kid, not only on the bike but also off the bike. He means a lot to me as a person.”
Asked about Pidcock’s potential in the big road race events, Bogaerts replied: “At the moment there is nothing that is not achievable.
“With the long stage races like the Tour, the Giro, the Vuelta, he hasn’t proved that yet – but he definitely has the physical capabilities”