With Britain’s dominance of the velodrome from Beijing under increasing threat, the focus was on BMX – expanded to these Games with the introduction of freestyle events – and mountain biking, where Yorkshireman Pidcock and Evie Richards offer medal potential. .
Cyclocross, in which Pidcock and Richards won world titles at the junior and under-23 level, may not be an Olympic sport – not yet, at least – but its growth at home following their success shows what could happen if either of them ends up on the podium in Izu next week.
“Of course I think in the past cyclocross has grown in popularity, and that’s partly because of me and Ben Tulett and Evie,” said Pidcock.
“If in these Olympics we come away with a medal, either me or Evie, I think we’re going to start a trend in mountain biking. There is a lot of potential. “
When Pidcock competes on Monday he will face a field including Mathieu van der Poel, the Dutchman who made a remarkable appearance on the Tour de France – spending six days in the yellow jersey before retiring from the race after a week to change his focus towards the Games.
Pidcock has been mountain biking in recent weeks, but his own preparations for Tokyo were hit when he broke his collarbone in a training accident in early June.
Remarkably, it was the first fractured bone in Pidcock’s career – “I usually land on my feet,” he said – but he shook himself in no time, getting back on his bike a few days after a operation, and he minimized any impact. could have.
Instead, like so many athletes from different sports, Pidcock is more concerned with heat and humidity.
The Leeds cyclist is one of several riders who have set up their turbo trainers in inner tents to try and replicate the conditions.
“Basically for half an hour or 40 minutes I’m sitting in a really hot box pedaling really slowly because it’s really hot,” he said.
“My spare bedroom contains a tent and the heat continues to trigger the electricity.”
To participate in these Olympic Games, Pidcock broke with a remarkable first season on the road with the Ineos Grenadiers. He came within millimeters of victory in the Amstel Gold Race, took the victory at De Brabantse Pijl and finished on the podium at Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne
“I think I went pretty well,” said Pidcock, who plans to make his Grand Tour debut in Vuelta a Espana next month. “I showed that I could compete at the highest level on the road and until the accident, I was doing pretty well.
But Pidcock has no plans to abandon other disciplines to focus exclusively on the road – his future goals are in just about every field.
“Next year I want to try to win the mountain bike world championships,” he said. “It’s definitely a big goal, cross country will also be there but maybe just a few races.
“Then in the next few years I want to focus on a Grand Tour to a certain extent, and at the next Olympics in Paris I want to go road racing, mountain biking and time trial if they Mountain. “
Almost everything except the track, then?
“Yes. The track is boring,” Pidcock said. “It’s just going around in circles.”