Team GB lost their status as reigning Olympic team pursuit champions after a controversial crash against the Danish team in the semi-final resulted in a bizarre defeat
Tokyo 2020 round-up: Sailing gold success for Team GB
Great Britain’s men’s cyclists crashed out of the team pursuit competition on Tuesday morning after a strange incident left one of the Team GB riders in a heap at the Izu Velodrome.
They were competing against a Danish team already shrouded in controversy after concerns were raised about their equipment use at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
A team pursuit race is concluded if one team catches up around the velodrome with their opponents, and Danish rider Frederik Madsen did so in extraordinary fashion as he bundled into Team GB’s replacement rider Charlie Tanfield.
Tanfield had been a late inclusion in the team after veteran performer Ed Clancy unexpectedly retired after suffering a back injury before the event.
He had been left behind by the team’s lead riders. Both teams were left furious by the crash, with Madsen loudly shouting “F*** them” in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
After half an hour of deliberation by the UCI (the sport’s governing body), the race win was awarded to Denmark who now advance to Wednesday’s final against Italy. The result means that Britain will not win the team pursuit for the first time since 2004.
The semi-final had more spice to it than usual given Stephen Park, performance director of British Cycling, admitted that Team GB had called for the Danes to be disqualified from the event alongside many other nations.
The calls came after British cycling legend Chris Boardman pointed out that the entire team was wearing medical tape down the front of their shins – where it would be most aerodynamically beneficial.
Park went on to say that there had been an animated meeting between the teams and authorities in which the UCI acknowledged that the Danes were prohibited in using the equipment in further rounds, however would not be punished for breaking the rules in the heat – as they should be according to UCI regulations.
The Danes had also been accused of wearing aerodynamic undervests that had not been correctly registered. The rules state that any equipment worn in competition has to have been publicly for sale at the start of the Olympic year.
Team GB have claimed that the website selling the undervest was only amended yesterday to have the for sale date match that timescale.
Park was adamant that there had been some foul play: “A number of teams have researched into the source code of the website and found that it was actually published in May.”
Park expressed his displeasure with the UCI’s ruling, speaking after the meeting. He said: “There was a fairly heated debate about whether the UCI were or were not going to apply their own rules about [the tape] and about undervests.
“A number of the teams, including ourselves, have gone to huge lengths to make sure we are legal and have checked every single item with the UCI, as required by the regulations before we got here. As have a number of other teams.
“Not surprisingly us and them are pretty disappointed that now there are teams turning up using undervests that are not part of the equipment registered.”
Park was staunchly adamant that the Danes should have been disqualified from the competition. He said: “Do I think they should be disqualified? I don’t think there is any alternative.
“The rules are clear. It says you cannot apply something to the skin. They have applied something to the skin.
“It says in the specific rule that if you break that rule, your option is being eliminated or disqualified, so they have no option. There is no doubt in anyone else’s mind that it is deliberate.”
The defeat to the Danes concluded a turbulent day for the men’s pursuit team, which had begun inauspiciously with Clancy’s retirement which came somewhat out of the blue given that he had been part of the team which qualified on Monday.