At 3:00 PM Japanese time, the start sign was given at the Izu Mountain Bike Park for the 38 riders of the Olympic XCO race. It had rained earlier today, so the course was slightly modified. Five rounds were scheduled.
Blanka Kata Vas was lined up on the fifth row, and from here she could start her first Olympic appearance. With a flashy start, the young Hungarian quickly managed to secure a third place in the field. Unfortunately, she crashed in the opening run and had to give up some places.
In the following rounds, Vas bravely fought back from tenth place to a chasing breakaway with Loana Lecomte (FRA), Pauline Ferrand-Prevot (FRA), Anne Tauber (NED), Anne Terpstra (NED), Evie Richards (GB ), Sina Frei (CH) and Linda Indergand (CH).
The two Swiss ladies managed to break free from the leading group and went in pursuit of the leader of the race, their superior compatriot Jolanda Neff. Behind an all-Swiss podium with Neff on the top step, and Frei and Indergand in second and third respectively, Vas managed to take a great fourth place at 2:09 of the winner.
Back in the Olympic village, Vas responded: “I'm really really happy and I still can't believe it. I had to start from the 5th row but was lucky with a great start in which i could move to the front of the race. After that I made a few mistakes, but I wasn't the only one. I didn't have any expectations upfront. I should be happy with a Top 10 result. I never raced in the Elite category at the World Cups. This is a big motivation!”
After the match we see her talking briefly with winner Neff. “She congratulated me with a great result and an incredible ride.”
“Tomorrow I'll fly back to Hungary for a rest period of two weeks. From then on, I'll focus on the cyclocross races later this season. For sure I'll ride the World Championships MTB (U23), but my main goal is the CX season.”
Photo credits: Getty Sport