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Cycling – Mountain Bike

Rocky paths, tricky climbs and technical descents will provide plenty of challenges for riders in the Mountain Bike competition.

Key facts  

Venue: Hadleigh Farm, Essex
Dates: Saturday 11 – Sunday 12 August
Medal events: 2
Athletes: 80 (50 men, 30 women)
Much like BMX, Mountain Biking is a young sport that has risen to worldwide popularity at an amazing rate. Fast, furious and occasionally downright terrifying, the sport developed in northern California during the 1970s. However, it quickly spread from its low-key beginnings and now has a huge following around the globe, which has only grown since its arrival on the Olympic programme in the 1990s.

The basics

Cross-country Mountain Bike competitions at the Olympic Games take place over rough and hilly countryside. All riders start together and must complete a set number of laps of the course, with races lasting around one hour and forty-five minutes for both men and women. There are no heats: for both the men’s and women’s events, all competitors start together, and the first rider to cross the finish line wins the gold.

Bicycles used in Mountain Bike events are built for speed, durability and comfort, no easy task given the variety of terrain. They need to be quick and light enough to aid climbing through uneven terrain, but sturdy and stable enough to handle descents at extreme speeds.

Olympic Mountain Biking, past and present

The first official Mountain Bike World Championships were held as recently as 1990. A mere six years later, cross-country Mountain Biking made its Olympic debut in Atlanta.

At London 2012, the Mountain Bike competition will take place at Hadleigh Farm in Essex. The newly constructed course, built especially for the Olympic Games, will provide a tough test for competitors from all over the world.
Cycling – Mountain Bike
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