Denmark and Great Britain embroiled in crash controversy
Germany coasted to victory in the women's team pursuit, while Denmark made it through to the men's final in controversial fashion.
Denmark were perhaps fortunate to progress to the men's team pursuit final after Frederik Madsen crashed into the back of Great Britain's Charlie Tanfield in the closing kilometre.
The Danes, who were over two seconds ahead of their opponents, were easing to victory in the heats until lead rider Madsen inexplicably smashed into Tanfield, meaning just two riders from each side crossed the finish line. The crash prompted an angry response from Madsen and left both teams awaiting further judgement from the officials, with Denmark claiming they had made the catch before the collision.
Denmark confirmed as finalists
The UCI deliberated before confirming Denmark's place in the final, as race officials felt a successful catch – deemed to be made by a team of three when they are within one metre of the other team's last rider – had been completed.
The crash capped an eventful day in cycling, with Tanfield serving as a late replacement for Ed Clancy, who retired on Tuesday with a back injury, amid a row over Denmark's illegal equipment from Monday's qualifying session.
Prior to Tuesday's meeting, British Cycling performance director Stephen Park further fuelled the grudge match by confirming Britain were one of "several" teams calling for the Danes to be disqualified due to their use of plastering on shins to improve aerodynamics.
Well, that was... eventful!— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) August 3, 2021
Denmark advance to the gold medal final in the men's team pursuit.
We're incredibly proud of our team and their performance over the competition @ethan_hayter @EthanVernon22 @olliewood95 @CharlieTanfield @Ed_Clancy #Tokyo2020#TeamGB pic.twitter.com/OUW4fe0gbe
Madsen on cycling crash
Madsen, speaking after the crash, explained how the unexpected collision happened and also defended against the allegations of unfair equipment use. "I knew that there was a GB guy. I didn't know if he was the third man or the fourth one, or first or second man. Suddenly he was just in front of me, and I couldn't react," he said. "It's just a shame and again I hope Charlie [Tanfield] is okay. We don't have anything to do with our equipment, clothes and the rest out of the sport. We just go on the bikes and we just ride our race. That's the only job that we have. We do what our team tells us to do. Ask a Formula One driver if he knows everything about the car – he does not. So, we don't know anything about our equipment. Ask our team, not us."
Italy, who set a new world record of 3:42.307 in their heat against New Zealand, now stand in Denmark's way of a gold medal on Thursday.
Germany set new world record
In the women's team pursuit heats, Germany and Great Britain exchanged world-best times before the former's 4:06.159 reclaimed the record to set up a ride for gold between the two. Germany, who had not claimed a medal in this specific event since its 2012 introduction, then left Laura Kenny's team in their tracks as they cruised to victory, setting a new world record of 4:04.242.
Kenny's silver meant she became just the fourth British woman to win at least five medals at the Games, though she admitted an element of shock at Germany's performance.
"I think they [Germany] took everyone by surprise," Kenny told BBC Sport after the final. "They were the quickest at the worlds, it was just in qualifying they didn't get it right. I think they ran fourth or fifth. We knew they were going to go fast but just maybe not that fast."
The United States and Canada battled it out for bronze, with Chloe Dygert inspiring her team-mates to assure a place on the podium for the USA.
Dutch set new Olympic record
World champions the Netherlands stormed to gold past the defending Olympic champions Team GB as they smashed the Olympic record with a time of 41.369 seconds. The Netherlands last won a gold medal in the men's event in 1936 and the victory also means they join France as the only nation to win gold as reigning world champions in this cycling track event.
Jeffrey Hoogland, who is already a three-time world champion, concurred with team-mate Harrie Lavreysen as he explained his team had achieved the one goal they set before the Games.
"It means a lot. All these years of work and even the extra year process made it extra tough, but I think everybody had the same problem," Hoogland said after the final. "As Harrie said, we are three times world champion. We are top of the top world riders, and we had each other to keep the level high. Sometimes that was hard but at the end it was all worth it."
Great Britain, who had collected gold at the previous three Games, had to settle for their second silver in just over 20 minutes, with Jason Kenny enjoying a bittersweet moment as he became the first athlete to win eight Olympic medals in track cycling. Kenny also equalled the total medal haul of Britain's most successful Olympian Sir Bradley Wiggins, though Kenny has one more gold and silver.
France, who have claimed a medal in the men's team sprint in every Games since it was first held in 2000, edged out Australia for bronze.
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