Meet Our Favorite Cycling Chicks of the 2020 Olympics
Athletes from around the world put the pedal to the pavement (or dirt) in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic cycling events, with 600 cyclists from 50 different countries boarding their bikes to participate. If you didn’t spend countless hours glued to your TV to watch all these events, but still want to get in on the cycling hype, this article is for you.
Here we’ll go over everything cycling that went down this Olympic season, introduce a few of our favorite badass cycling chicks, and share some awesome opportunities to get ‘behind bars’ yourself!
A Brief Overview of Cycling in the Olympics
The 2020 Summer Olympics included 22 cycling events in five different disciplines. Let’s dive in!
Fairly new on the roster, Olympic mountain biking is made up of 4.1-km laps on challenging mixed terrain. Nearly 150 riders competed in the race and the first to complete the required laps took home the gold. In the 2020 Olympics, this event was at the Izu Mountain Bike Course in Izu City, Shizuoka.
Road Race and Time Trial
Teams of five men or four women participate in both the cycling road race and time trial. Men completed two-22.1km loops and women completed one loop of the same distance in the road race starting at Musashinonomori Park. The time trials did the same respective distances and timed individuals beginning at the Fuji International Speedway.
There are six different events under cycling track: Sprint, Team Sprint, Team Pursuit, Keirin, Madison, and Omnium. Each event has unique criteria looking at both individuals and teams for endurance, ability, and teamwork. Games are held in a 250-meter bowl-shaped arena and make up 12 of the 22 total cycling events.
The 2020 Games is the first time in history BMX Freestyle competitions were held in the Olympics. Only nine men and nine women competed in 60-second runs where judges scored on skills and tricks focusing on originality, execution, difficulty, and creativity. Popular bike tricks like barspins, tailwhips, and backflips demonstrate riders’ unquestionable awesomeness and incredible abilities.
BMX Racing came to the Olympic scene at the 2008 Beijing Games. These speed demons race on groomed dirt tracks strewn with challenges and earn points based on their finishing position. In this case, the rider with the lowest score advances. BMX riders wear the most protective gear out of all five cycling events, including a full-face helmet, long-sleeve durable clothing, goggles, and gloves. That’s a lot of gear to rock in the summer heat!
Meet Some of the Badass Cycling Chicks of the Olympics
Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics is the first time nearly the same number of women will compete as men in all disciplines, including cycling events. About time for these badasses on bikes!
While cycling is one of the oldest Olympic competitions — first seen at the Athens 1896 Games — it took almost 100 years for women to compete in cycling. Women started competing in cycling during the Los Angeles 1984 games for road racing and got on the track roster for the sprint during the Seoul 1988 games.
Anna van der Breggen
Competing in: Road Race and Time Trial
Having taken home gold for the road race in the 2016 Rio Olympics, many expected Anna van der Breggen would be just as unbeatable in 2020—and she almost was, still taking home the bronze medal in women’s individual cycling Time Trial.
Van der Breggen was practically born on the bike, with her parents and siblings also being cyclists. Riding since age 7 and since racking up a long list of world titles, the now 31-year-old says that a bronze medal is a great way to “finish it all,” as this double champion will now retire from professional racing.
Competing in: BMX Racing
Riding since the age of eight, Axelle Etienne has shown promise behind the bars of a BMX bike since the beginning. Winning titles as early as 2013, she won her fifth French national title this year before going on to place seventh in Tokyo’s Olympic women’s BMX Racing.
Etienne was originally inspired by her brother who also rode BMX. She says her parents encouraged and fully supported her, traveling to competitions as a family on weekends when they were young.
Competing in: BMX Freestyle
Hannah Roberts grew up in Michigan and began riding BMX at age nine, and has been totally unstoppable since. Prior to taking home silver in the first women’s Olympic BMX Freestyle competition, Roberts had already won three world cup titles, three world championships, and is a Pan American Games gold medalist.
On top of training to compete in the postponed 2020 Tokyo Games, Roberts has also recently purchased her first home, adopted an ADORABLE puppy, and married her now-wife, Kelsey. Talk about a busy year!
Competing in: Mountain Biking
The gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo women’s cross-country mountain biking event tasted extra sweet to the already legendary world champion Jolanda Neff. After a crash in 2019, Neff suffered serious injuries and took three months off to fully recover. Not only that, but this badass biker chick broke her hand at a race just six weeks before competing in the Olympics. And she still finished fourth in that race… can you say resilient?
Outside of racing, Neff loves to cook and has a passion for coffee. She and her pro-biking beau Luca are each other’s biggest support in competition.
Feeling Inspired? Join Explorer Chick for a Group Ride!
Does all this talk of epic cyclists have you interested in getting your own butt on a bike? The dirt on your legs, the wind in your hair, and with an awesome group of women just like you? Say no more!
No matter how long it’s been since you got on a bike, Explorer Chick has what you’re looking for with these mountain biking opportunities and bike touring trips. Explore the Sonoran Desert of Arizona on a Fat Tire Bike Tour or join the full-fledged multi-sport adventure to Machu Picchu with cycling, rafting, hiking, and ziplining.
So what are you waiting for? Let’s get adventurous!
Meet the Writer
April is an adventure lover and freelance writer based in New England, with a passion for public lands, wild places, and all things outdoors. She loves camping in any form and spends as many weekends as she can hiking New Hampshire’s highest peaks, or road-tripping with her sweet dog Marley. If not in the mountains, you can find her planning her next expedition or caring for one of her far-too-many-houseplants.
Favorite outdoor adventure: National Parks Hiking and Road Trips!