Cycling has been an official Olympic sport since the first modern Games in 1896.

Tokyo 2020 competition animation "One Minute, One Sport"

We will show you the rules and highlights of cycling in one minute. Whether you are familiar with cycling or want to know more about it, "One Minute, One Sport" explains the sport and how it works. Watch the video below.

One Minute, One Sport | Cycling


Ever since the bicycle was invented, it has been used for sport. Cycling became an Olympic sport at the first modern Games at Athens 1896 and is one of the few sports that have featured at every Olympic Games.

Cycling road has been included at nearly all Olympic Games since 1896 apart from a 12-year period where it was excluded before returning for Stockholm 1912. However, women’s road events were only introduced at the Los Angeles 1984 Games. Although Olympic cycling was originally restricted to amateurs, professional cyclists have been able to participate since Atlanta 1996, a decision that increased its popularity.

Event Programme

  • Road Race (Men/Women)
  • Individual Time Trial (Men/Women)

Essence of the sport

A magnificent race, like completing a stage of the Tour de France in intense heat.

Olympic cycling road races have generally been held on a circuit, but for the first time different start and finish points will be used at the Tokyo 2020 Games. From the mass start, riders will cover a 244km course for men and 147km course for women that will move through Tokyo and three prefectures as cyclists fight for gold.

The race will start in Tokyo’s Musashinonomori Park, and riders will pass through Kanagawa and Yamanashi Prefectures as they race to the finish line at the Fuji International Speedway in the Shizuoka Prefecture. The course is not only long but has steep ascents and descents, making it more difficult than previous Olympic courses. There will be a total elevation of 2,692m in the women’s race and 4,865m in the men’s race, which is similar to completing the Queen’s Stage of the Tour de France.

The men’s race is expected to take about six hours, so riders will not only need to strategise how to handle the course but also the Japanese summer. Magnificent views of Mt. Fuji can be seen from many places on the course, but unfortunately riders will have little time to enjoy it.

The individual time trial will see riders start at set intervals, with men completing two laps of the 22.1km course and women completing one. National Olympic Committees (NOCs) can obtain a maximum quota of two places for the time trial, and riders must qualify through the UCI World Ranking.

Outlook for the Tokyo 2020 Games

Riders from the same country can work together to help one of them win a medal.

Road Race

In the road race, riders from the same country compete as a team but aim for individual medals.

There will be 130 men and 67 women participating in road races, with Belgium, Italy, Colombia, Spain, France and the Netherlands securing the largest men's slots. Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA and Italy secured the largest quota for the women’s race.

The average speed in men's races exceeds 40km/h but air resistance is a common enemy faced by riders, affecting the speed, endurance and the team’s strategy. Teams will work together to beat their rivals, while protecting their teammates to make it easier for a rider from their team to win.

The favourites to land on the podium are usually riders who are considered all-rounders but with the steep slopes, long climbs and high altitudes of the Tokyo 2020 course, it could be a climber. However, since it is different to previous courses used at a Games, spectators can expect intense battles for the gold.

France’s Julian Alaphilippe, who won the mountains classification at the 2018 Tour de France will be one to watch in Tokyo. In the women’s event, the Netherland’s Anna van der Breggen will be looking to go for back-to-back gold medals but the whole Dutch team is strong so it is a possibility that anyone from the Netherlands could win.

Individual Time Trial

A total of 40 men and 25 women will compete in the individual time trial. Unlike a road race where everyone starts at the same time, the event sees one rider race against the clock to test their individual power.

World Champions Tom Dumoulin of the Netherlands and Australia's Rohan Dennis will go head-to-head in Tokyo along with Remco Evenpoel, who made a strong impression on his professional debut. He has already won the Belgian National title and came second in the World and European Championships.