One year later than planned, the Tokyo Olympic Games finally get underway this weekend, with the opening ceremony taking place on Friday (July 23). Among the many sports on show, in the home of keirin racing, this year’s Games are once again packed with cycling – be it road, track, mountain biking or BMX.
There is cycling of some form every day of the Games, with a total of 22 gold medals up for grabs across the four disciplines.
The men’s road race (controversially, not the women’s) climbs the lower slopes of Mount Fuji as the two-wheeled action kicks off on the opening weekend of the Games.
Four days of BMX action conclude the outdoor events, before the action kicks off in the Izu Velodrome – with medals up for grabs every day from then on.
Whether you’re a road, MTB, track or BMX fan – and perhaps all four – let’s take a closer look at when you can catch the cycling action at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Olympic cycling TV coverage and streaming in the UK, USA and Australia
How can I watch cycling at the Olympic Games in the UK?
The BBC will be providing blanket coverage of the Games again, so viewers in the UK can tune in whenever they wish to watch the best of the cycling action.
How can I watch cycling at the Olympic Games in the USA?
NBC will be the place to go for US viewers, with all coverage in the United States broadcast by NBC and its affiliates – this includes both live and delayed coverage.
How can I watch cycling at the Olympic Games in Australia?
Channel 7 are the team behind blanket Olympic coverage in Australia, with 7Plus boasting more than 40 channels to ensure you don’t miss any of the events you are interested in.
Time differences from Japan for Olympic coverage
- British Summer Time (BST): –8 hours
- Eastern Standard Time (EST): –13 hours
- Pacific Time (PT): –16 hours
- Australian Eastern Standard Time: ＋1 hours
Schedule of cycling events at the Tokyo Olympic Games
Olympic road cycling schedule
Men’s Olympic road race route
- Date: Saturday 24 July
- Start time: 11:00am local time, 3:00am BST, 11:00pm EST (23 July), 8:00pm PT (23 July), 12:00pm AEST
- Distance: 234km
- Elevation gain: 4,865m
The men’s road race kicks off the cycling action, with a climb of the lower slopes of Mount Fuji the stand-out of a lumpy 234km course.
The men’s road race kicks off the cycling action. With over 4,865m of climbing, the lumpy 234km course scales 14.3km up the lower slopes of Mount Fuji and features the Mikuni Pass, a 6.5km climb at 10.6km.
Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar and third-place finisher Richard Caparaz will be ones to watch, as the course could suit a climber. But a long downhill running into a relatively flat finish could suit a puncheur like Wout van Aert who, after his stage victory at the Tour on Mont Ventoux, is one of the top favourites.
Women’s Olmypic road race route
- Date: Sunday 25 July
- Start time: 1:00pm local time, 5:00am BST, 0:00am EST, 9:00pm PT (24 July), 2:00pm AEST
- Distance: 137km
- Elevation gain: 2,692m
The women’s event doesn’t follow the same route as the men’s race – missing out Mount Fuji – but the 137km race still features 2,692m of climbing.
The course will suit riders who can get over climbs but still sprint to the line. The Dutch team will have a formidable presence at the race with Marianne Vos and Anne van der Breggan, who just won the Giro Donne. British rider Lizzie Deignan and Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma will also be ones to watch.
Men’s and women’s Olympic time trial route
- Date: Wednesday 28 July
- Start time women’s: 11:30am local, 3:30am BST, 10:30pm EST (27 July), 7:30pm PT (27 July), 12:30pm AEST
- Start time men’s: 2:00pm local, 6:00am BST, 1:00am EST, 10:00pm PT (27 July), 3:00pm AEST
- Distance: 44.2km (men’s), 22.1km (women’s)
- Elevation gain: 846m (men’s), 423m (women’s)
The men’s and women’s time trials take place the following Wednesday. The course starts and ends at Fuji International Speedway and follows the same 22.1km circuit, but the men will complete two laps and the women will do one lap.
The loop has 423m of climbing starting with a descent and is quickly followed by a tough incline before a more rolling section.
Olympic mountain biking schedule
In between the road races and the time trials, Tokyo’s cross-country mountain bike racing fills the void on the first Monday and Tuesday of the Games.
Located just outside Tokyo on the Izu MTB Course, the men are the first to bid for gold medals before the women ride the following day.
The course is a 4km lap with 150m of climbing. It hasn’t been specified yet how many laps the riders will be completing, but it is expected to be between seven and nine laps.
The course has various sections named Amagigoe, Joren-no-taki, Hashi, Wasabi, Odorikohodo and Karesansui, which reflect their characteristics. It features steep ascents and descents as well as rocky sections that will test the riders’ strength and fitness as well as their technical ability.
The races will have mass starts with riders jostling for position, which might prove essential as any rider that has a time 80 per cent slower than the racer leader’s first lap will be eliminated.
Men’s Olympic cross-country mountain biking schedule
- Date: Monday 26 July
- Start time: 3:00pm local time, 7:00am BST, 2:00am EST, 11:00pm PT (25 July), 4:00pm AEST
- Distance: TBC
- Elevation gain: TBC
Nino Schurter will be one to watch in the men’s race, as reigning Olympic champion. Tom Pidcock and Mathieu van der Poel are also serious contenders.
Women’s Olympic cross-country mountain biking schedule
- Date: Tuesday 27 July
- Start time: 3:00pm local time, 7:00am BST, 2:00am EST, 11:00pm PT (25 July) 4:00pm AEST
- Distance: TBC
- Elevation gain: TBC
Jenny Rissveds is the reigning Olympic champion but isn’t considered one of the top contenders. France’s Pauline Ferrand Prévot and Britain’s Evie Richards are two of the favourites.
Olympic BMX racing schedule
Before attention turns to the velodrome, the Tokyo Bay Zone hosts the BMX action – both the racing and freestyle events.
Qualifiers for the former take place on the Thursday, before the semi-finals and medal events the following day. The freestyle heats are the second Saturday, and the finals on the Sunday.
Thursday July 29
- BMX Racing (men and women) – qualifiers
Friday July 30
- BMX Racing (men and women) – semi-finals, finals
Saturday July 31
- BMX Freestyle (men and women) – heats
Sunday August 1
- BMX Freestyle (men and women) – finals
Finally, track cycling takes over on Monday 2 August, with medals up for grabs every day from then on until the final day of the Games on Sunday 8 August.
Monday August 2
- Men’s team pursuit – heats
- Women’s team pursuit – heats
- Women’s team sprint – heats, semi-finals, final
Tuesday August 3
- Men’s team pursuit – semi-finals
- Women’s team pursuit – semi-finals, final
- Men’s team sprint – heats, semi-finals, final
Wednesday August 4
- Men’s team pursuit – final
- Men’s sprint – heats
- Women’s keirin – heats
Thursday August 5
- Women’s keirin – quarter-finals, semi-finals, final
- Men’s omnium – scratch race, tempo race, elimination race, points race
- Men’s sprint – heats, quarter-finals
Friday August 6
- Men’s sprint – semi-finals, final
- Women’s Madison
- Women’s sprint – heats
Saturday August 7
- Men’s Madison
- Men’s keirin – heats
- Women’s sprint – quarter-finals
Sunday August 8
- Men’s keirin – quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals
- Women’s omnium – scratch race, tempo race, elimination race, points race
- Women’s sprint – semi-finals, final