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Women’s Olympic Bike and Tri Racing: Who to Watch

Haley Batten with the Park City Little Bellas
image courtesy of Brian Mulligan

Hey race fans, are you ready for the Olympics? Whether you’re a BMX, mountain bike, or triathlon fan, watching the best racers compete at the world’s biggest international sporting event puts racing in front of an audience that’s more than just us bike fans. 

We are thrilled that six (6!) of our Little Bellas Pro Ambassadors are heading to Tokyo to compete in three sports (BMX, mountain bike, and triathlon). A Pro Ambassador is an  internationally ranked professional woman athlete who serves as a role model to the worldwide Little Bellas community. These accomplished women visit programs, interact with participants, and spread the word about the program, all in addition to maintaining their demanding racing careers. Everyone will be bringing their A game to Tokyo and everything must come together on race day for a shot at a medal. Here’s who (and when!) to watch at the 2021 Olympics.

The Olympic Games have to be everything to every sport. This adds an extra layer of challenge, especially to road cycling, mountain biking, and triathlon, where the racecourses are subject to local topography and the course designer’s whims. Then racing is even more of a head game and racers must stay calm and focused while adapting to the course and performing at their absolute best. In short, their race must be flawless.

Flora Duffy

Women’s Individual Triathlon
Tuesday, July 27 6:30 a.m. Japan Standard Time*
Flora Duffy

Flora is the only person to win three triathlon world titles in the same year (2016). She has almost quite literally won it all…except for an Olympic medal, and she will be looking to fill that vacant spot in her trophy case in Tokyo. She is strong on the bike and may strike a decisive move during the race’s bike leg. Watch for it because once Flora breaks away, she may be gone, gone, gone after that gold medal!

Women’s Cross-country Mountain Bike
Tuesday, July 27 15:00 (3 p.m.) Japan Standard Time*
Haley Batten, Kate Courtney, Erin Huck, Catharine Pendrel

The Olympic cross-country mtb course has earned praise from racers for its demanding technical and climbing sections. There will be nowhere to hide for racers lacking skill, power, or endurance but hey, they didn’t get this far without perfecting every little detail of their performance, right?!

Race-favorite, Kate Courtney, who suffered a broken arm at the end of May, has been rallying hard since then to come back from that crash. Recent race results prove that the former world champ is back on form and en force to fight for a medal.

Just three weeks ago Erin Huck got the news that she would replace Chloe Woodruff (another Little Bellas Pro Ambassador) and represent the U.S. in the women’s mtb event. Fit and fast, Erin was immediately up to the task and even collected a national XC title two weeks after being named to the Olympic team. Luck hasn’t always been on Erin’s side so let’s all send some luck her way on the big day!

Haley Batten’s meteoric rise in the mtb ranks surprised no one. So far this season she’s been on the world cup podium twice against the very same rivals she will face in Tokyo. Like everyone else, Haley will be trained and prepared with her eye on the prize but if rain is in the forecast, Haley’s extraordinary talent for staying upright in wet weather may prove to be her winning superpower.

Almost six months ago to the day, Catharine Pendrel was in a hospital in western Canada, holding her newborn baby girl for the first time. Not content with the bronze medal she won at the Olympics in Rio in 2016, Catharine made it her mission to represent Canada once more at the Games. If COVID has a silver lining, it’s that it was literally a game-changer for Catharine, who could take aim at an Olympic spot when they were changed from 2020 to 2021.

Payton Ridenour

Women’s BMX Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals
Thursday, July 29, 10 a.m. (Quarterfinals) Japan Standard Time*
Friday, July 30, 10 a.m. (Semifinals, Finals) Japan Standard Time*
Payton Ridenour

Smooth is fast to Payton and she’ll need the endurance and technical skills she gained last year during quarantine while training on her backyard BMX track. The extra-long Tokyo BMX racecourse will squeeze another 5-8 seconds of racing out of the Olympians, which is like adding another mile to the marathon or 50 meters to the 100 ‘fly. 

At 19, Payton is the youngest racer on the U.S. Olympic BMX team, as well as our youngest Pro Ambassador. Age is just a number though, as Payton has proven by the long list of accomplishments to her name. This spring she added another one when she released her children’s BMX-themed alphabet book to make reading fun.

Most of us will never know what it takes to become an Olympian though from time to time we get glimpses of the heroism and heartbreak that forge world-class athletes.

We celebrate you, our Olympians and Pro Ambassadors, and we honor your achievements thus far. We will be watching and shouting again and again…


*Japan Standard Time
Eastern Daylight Time = +13 hours
Central Daylight Time = +14
Mountain Daylight Time = +15
Pacific Daylight Time = +16

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