The last British cyclist to compete in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, Grant Ferguson mixed it with some of the world’s best mountain bikers to finish 17th in the cross-country event.
The 22-year-old Scot, in his debut Olympic Games, crossed the line five minutes behind Swiss winner Nino Schurter in wet and slippery conditions in Deodoro.
With only one World Cup event remaining in his debut season in the elite category, Ferguson admits he was hoping for a top 10 finish in Rio, but will use the experience going forward into next season.
“I kind of wanted a top ten and I went for that at the start and then I just had to find my own rhythm to get the most out of myself. I did my best out there,” he said.
“We’d practiced the course all week and it has been dry and dusty, so it completely changed overnight. I had a little look before we started and I could tell it was going to be slippery."
Much of the pre-race attention was on world road race champion Peter Sagan, a former junior MTB champion, who had decided to race off-road in Rio.
But Ferguson, unlike Sagan and many others, managed to keep himself out of trouble with punctures and mechanical problems to move through the field over the course of the seven laps.
“[Punctures] are the nature of mountain biking and equipment. Everyone runs light stuff because it’s a one day race and they take a risk. I saw people everywhere having problems but I was trying to look after myself," he said.
The mountain bikers had to wait until the final weekend of competition in Rio for their chance to impress, but Ferguson says this did not affect his concentration or enjoyment of village life.
“I’ve really enjoyed my Olympic experience," he said. "It’s really cool to be part of the squad, being in the village with the atmosphere. Obviously I was all focussed on this event and it’s on the last day, so I’ve been looking forward to it for a long time.
“I knew [the wait to compete] was coming, so I didn’t come into the village for the whole two weeks otherwise I’d have been a bit stir crazy. So I came here with a week to go and prepared for my race.”