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“Honestly, I think I was born to do mountain bike,” Tom Pidcock said earlier this year.
The 21-year-old from Leeds backed up his theory in sublime, powerful style on Monday to win Britain’s first Olympic gold in mountain biking after a brilliant cross-country breakaway ride.
His victory was even more sensational given that Pidcock was in a Girona hospital last month after shattering his collarbone into five pieces following a car collision during training. The incident saw his bike snapped in half.
Pidcock was back on a bike six days later.
Moreover, he believed he was still ripe to become the youngest Olympic champion in Tokyo.
Following Monday's Team GB gold, he can celebrate his 22nd birthday on Friday with his mum and girlfriend, who he said would be in tears back home in Yorkshire.
“It’s pretty crazy that I became an Olympian, and I was trying to tell myself at the start of the race it’s special just to be here,” he said.
Pidcock prepared for Tokyo's humidity by training in a heated tent before departure and spent the last two weeks in Japan studying the course.
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That the lone British challenger was allowed to blitz his rivals was also largely down to a heavy over-rotating crash by multi-talented Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel, who for a week had led the Tour de France earlier this month.
But Pidcock’s main rival for gold crashed spectacularly on the opening lap as the Briton crossed the line 20 seconds clear.
"I haven't done a good race since [the injury]," Pidcock said. "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.
"But once the race started, I knew I was in a good place. The heat, I mean, obviously I didn't feel good but everyone just told me no one will feel good."
Having won under-23 level world titles in cyclo-cross, road and mountain bike, Pidcock’s Olympic title proves the Briton is a serious threat across any cycling discipline.
But it was after winning a World Cup mountain bike race earlier this season that he believed he was born to mountain bike.
“It's what I've done since I was little and what I enjoy the most," he said. "I believe I can win anything I put my mind to."
His next mission, he said on Monday, was to paint his mountain bike gold.
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