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Usually, mountain biking is carried out off-road, amidst the bushes, greeneries, and natural environments. Catching a sight of a mountain biking event, spectators will be surrounded by an action-packed, adventurous, and addictive adrenaline rush.

Cross-country Olympic (XCO) is contested under the cross-country format with riders challenged by precipitous climbs, thrilling descents, and punishing obstacles in this multiple lap race. While your eyes sparkle with anticipations, we will tell you how the format and rules for the Cross-country Olympic are panned out.


Courses of Cross-country Olympic generally comprise of a mix of dirt, gravel paths, forest paves, unexpected narrows with hair-raising uphills and downhills that put riders to the test on various barriers. The course must be marked out using stakes or banners and protected for its entire length.


The duration and lap length of Cross-country Olympic for both men and women are standardly taken place approximately 1 hour 30 minutes to 1 hour to 45 minutes, in 4 to 6 kilometers long. Men, typically, compete for more laps than the women.


The race has a mass start, with all of the riders putting in order according to their categories and rankings, and starting at the same time. Then, the riders have to complete a set amount of laps around the designated race course. Commonly, there are 8 rounds in a race and the best 5 results will be counted towards riders’ series results. The first rider to cross the finish line after completing the required laps is the winner, and so on.


As defined in the UCI regulations, any rider whose time being 80% slower of that of the race leader’s first lap is pulled out of the race. He is required to leave the race at the end of his lap in the zone provided for the purpose except when the rider is on his final lap.

Riders who have been pulled out of the race under the 80% rule are listed in the results in the order in which they are pulled out of the race, showing the number of laps down. *Riders must display their numbers on their handlebars and on their back during the race.

In order to make this work, a commissaire (or two), is stationed in the aforementioned 80% zone, which is usually a convenient point before the finish line, at a gap in the barriers where riders can easily exit the course. *With arms spreading wide, the commissaire blows a whistle while signalling the rider in question to leave the course.

Fast Facts!

Cross-country is the oldest variant of Mountain Bike. In 1996, Cross-country MTB Olympic became a sport for the first time in the Olympic Games of Atlanta.

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