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Tokyo Olympic XCO course looks really, really hard

Japan goes all out with steep climbs, big drops and what can only be described as boulder gardens

Jolanda Neff Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games test event

One year out from the 2020 Olympic Games, we finally know what the cross country mountain bike course will look like. And it is a doozy.

RELATED: Canadian racers share their inside lines on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic cross country course

The course mixes incredibly steep climbs with drops, jumps and what can only be described as boulder gardens. At first glance, the Olympic cross country course contains several unique features, mixed with a visually impressive design.

The world’s best XC racers gathered in Tokyo this weekend for one last race before the off season begins. The Olympic test event doesn’t count for World Cup series points, and carries minimal UCI points. It is, though, racer’s only opportunity to see, and race, the venue for the 2020 Olympic Games.

What racers saw in Japan will likely have many rushing home to work on their power, and technical skills. In one day of practice and one day of racing, the course claimed several of the top riders. Kate Courtney withdrew after a crash in practice left her with six stitches in her knee. 2016 Olympic champion Jenny Rissveds also crashed in practice and did not race. Reigning world champion Pauline Ferrand-Prevot is headed back to France with a broken nose after a competitor crashed in front of her at the start of the race.

Nino Schurter and Jolanda Neff both took wins in the test event for Switzerland. Neff’s countrywoman, Sina Frei added a third Swiss rider on the podium, reminding everyone that they will be the country to beat next year.

Canada was represented by Catharine Pendrel, Haley Smith, Sandra Walter, Peter Disera and Léandre Bouchard. Pendrel led the Canadians, finishing 10th. Walter was 24th, and Smith did not finish the race. Disera finished 13th behind Schurter, with Bouchard following in 23rd.

In addition to the difficulty of the XCO course, next year competitors will have to factor in concerns regarding overheating. Temperatures were high at the test event in October. There is growing concerns across sports about how athletes will hands the full force of July heat in Japan. The country has experienced significant heat waves the last couple years.

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Mission accomplished ✌️🐼 Testing my bike under race conditions on the track of next year‘s #olympicgames is a huge step for me. I didn‘t go to the test event in Rio and I know now how much it helps to race on the original track before. I feel like we gathered all the information + insights we could have ever wished for. And it feels soooooo good to finally win a race, I don’t care how big or small, just to win makes me soo happy🥰 And, last but not least, it‘s a huge confidence boost to know that the #supercaliber is loving it here as much as I am 🥰🐼 #jolandapanda #supercaliber #trekbikes #goldilocks #tokyo2020 #testrace #swissolympicteam Thank you 📸 @kasukabevisionfilmz

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Unlike World Cup events, where venues generally return regularly year after year, Olympic mountain bike venues are often created solely for the games. The Games also tend to take place outside in countries or cities outside the regular European and North American circuit of major international races.