Australia bounce back for team pursuit bronze, Italy break world record to win gold

Australia have won the men’s team pursuit bronze medal after a New Zealand rider crashed in their ride-off.

New Zealand were 0.2 of a second ahead when their rear rider touched wheels and went down, ruining their chances on Wednesday in Olympic track cycling.

Australia claimed bronze in the team pursuit.Credit:Getty Images

Australia soon caught the third remaining opponent, who had dropped off the New Zealand pace-line because of the crash.

It is some consolation for Australia after Alex Porter face-planted in qualifying, ruining their hopes of a gold medal.

Luke Plapp took his place on Tuesday and again in the bronze medal ride, combining with Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford and Kelland O’Brien.

World time trial champion Filippo Ganna rode superbly as Italy stormed back to beat Denmark in the gold-medal ride and broke the record again, clocking three minutes 42.032 seconds to win by just .168 of a second.

The Italian quartet broke their own world record on the way to the gold medal.Credit:Getty Images

The Italians led through the first half of the 4000-metre race, then watched as the Danish team of Lasse Norman Hansen, Niklas Larsen, Frederik Madsen and Rasmus Pedersen pulled ahead in the battle for golf.

Over the last five laps, the Italians – Simone Consonni, Ganna, Francesco Lamon and Jonathan Milan – wiped out a deficit of nearly a half-second to win the gold medal.

Italy have now won the team pursuit a record eight times at the Olympics, but this was their first victory in the event since the 1960 Rome Games in Rome.

There was more badly needed good news for the Australian track team on Wednesday, with Kaarle McCulloch reaching the keirin quarter-finals.

After finishing fourth in her opening heat, McCulloch took second in a repechage behind Hong Kong star Lee Wai Sze.

That means McCulloch will go into a quarter-final on Thursday night ahead of the medal round.

Until McCulloch’s progression and then the team pursuit bronze, it had been a dim afternoon for the Australians.

Top sprint hope Matthew Glaetzer pulled out of the event, with the team saying he was unwell after combining with Matthew Richardson and Nathan Hart for a frustrating fourth on Tuesday in the team sprint.

Australia’s Kaarle McCulloch progressed to the keirin quarter-finals.Credit:Getty Images

Richardson replaced Glaetzer, joining Hart in the match sprint, and they were 22nd- and 23rd-fastest out of the 24 qualifiers.

The Australians lost their round-one sprints and were knocked out in the repechage.

After the disaster of Rio, the team pursuit bronze is a welcome result, but otherwise it is proving another testing Olympics for the Australian track cycling team.

The fourth for the men’s team sprint and the fifth for the women’s team pursuiters on Tuesday repeated their Rio results.

Glaetzer is yet to win a medal at three Olympics, with four fourth placings.

Anna Meares’ 2012 sprint triumph has been the only Olympics gold medal for the track cycling team since it dominated the 2004 Athens Games, winning five.

Glaetzer was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in late 2019 and missed the February 2020 world championships because of a torn calf.

He is the top Australian men’s sprinter, winning the 2018 world title in the match sprint and the 2012 team sprint crown.


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