Italy’s golden streak of sporting success continued at Tokyo 2020 track cycling on Wednesday, as British Olympic legend Jason Kenny looked off pace in the opening rounds of the men’s individual sprint.
In the only final of the day at the Izu Velodrome, Italy broke the men’s world team pursuit record to beat a stunned Denmark. The Danes had been highly favored after winning the world title in 2020 and breaking the Olympic record in this week’s qualifying. But led by world road time trial champion Filippo Ganna, the son of a former Italian Olympic canoeist, the Italians held firm against Denmark before overtaking them on the final lap.
The teams were three tenths of a second from each other after 1,000 m and two tenths of a second at the halfway point. Then the Italians fell almost a second in the penultimate kilometer, before returning home to beat the Danes by the smallest margin. The Italians’ world record of 3min 42.032sec is more than eight seconds faster than the pace that Great Britain won gold in Rio five years ago (then a world record).
Following Italy’s triumph at Euro 2020 and two gold medals on Sunday in the men’s 100-meter sprint and high jump, the success of the team’s quest continued with a glorious summer for the country. In a scene eerily reminiscent of pre-pandemic competition, one of the Italian riders lifted his bike into the air in front of a small Japanese crowd at the velodrome and pumped it with triumph. The applause that rang out was a reminder of what could have been for these unorthodox Games.
“We are very happy for this gold medal,” said Francesco Lamon. “This is a great, great gift for the whole group because five years ago we started working for this, so we are very happy. We have a beautiful team, beautiful as a family. So, for me and for us, it is an honor to be part of this group ”.
Australia beat New Zealand in the bronze medal race, a remarkable recovery after the Australians’ campaign in the team pursuit was derailed on Monday with a broken handlebar that sent Alex Porter flying to the ground.
In other action on the third day, Kenny admitted that he might not have the speed to be on the podium in the men’s individual sprint. Britain’s most successful Olympian after his team won the silver medal on Tuesday, 24 hours later, he lost a beat. He placed eighth overall in the 200-meter qualifying round, before narrowly beating Malaysia’s Mohd Azizulhasni Awang and local contender Yuta Wakimoto in the early rounds.
“I’ve been struggling a bit, really struggling to recover after yesterday,” Kenny said. “Obviously, ranking eighth also puts you in the middle of it. I felt that each race was a final and I ran it like the last one ”.
Kenny said his teammate Jack Carlin was the most likely of the pair to advance to the finals. “Jack is very strong, he’s in a very good position,” Kenny said. “It is definitely our best chance. Obviously the Dutch guys are fast, a little bit faster, but I think Jack may have the advantage in the races.
“From my point of view, I keep skimping, playing a supporting role, I guess. Each person I knock out brings us one place closer to the podium. “
Carlin qualified third behind Dutch pair Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen. But the Scotsman had no problems in the opening rounds and will be a strong contender if he can continue his progress towards the medal rounds on Thursday.
“So far so good,” Carlin said. “It was nice to put a time on the board. In training I have shown signs that my flying things and my individual things have improved a bit. It was nice to finally be able to show it off, blow away the cobwebs today. “
The fallout continued from a spiteful day two of action on the track Tuesday, involving official complaints and a nasty accident. In the team pursuit heats, Danish driver Frederik Madsen defeated Briton Charlie Tanfield in the race that would determine which team advanced to the gold medal against Italy. Eventually Denmark was victorious, and Great Britain dropped to seventh against the eighth trip, which they won.
On Wednesday, Tanfield said that Madsen had apologized for the accident and his subsequent reaction (Madsen appeared to be yelling expletives at Tanfield, who was lying on the track, though the Dane later said he was expressing frustration at the situation rather than your rival). .
“He apologized to me,” Tanfield said. “At first I didn’t realize what he said or did, because I got back on the bike, because we still had a chance to win, we didn’t really know.” Tanfield objected when asked whether Denmark should have made it to the final, but criticized Madsen’s behavior. “I don’t know what the rules say, but I think it wasn’t very sporty. He apologized. I wasn’t very impressed by his behavior, but he apologized and we moved on. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism