Australia win bronze in men's team pursuit

Australia have won Olympic bronze medal in the men's team pursuit after a New Zealand rider crashed.
Australia have won Olympic bronze medal in the men's team pursuit after a New Zealand rider crashed.

Australia have won a gutsy bronze medal in the men's team pursuit as the event climaxed with more drama at the Olympic velodrome after three tumultuous days.

The New Zealanders were building a lead halfway through the 4000m final when Aaron Gate touched the wheel in front of him and went down at the rear of their paceline.

Italy then broke the world record in a riveting gold medal ride against Denmark, with their star rider Filippo Ganna leading the charge.

The crash was no way to win an Olympic medal, but the Australians could relate.

Two days ago, their gold medal hopes were dashed when Alex Porter face-planted into the Izu Velodrome boards at 65km/h because the handelbar snapped off his bike.

The equipment failure has sparked an AusCycling investigation and Seven Network commentator Scott McGrory said three of the men's team pursuit bikes were changed after an inspection.

The Australians rallied in their re-start on Monday to finish fifth-fastest in qualifying and then improved again in their heat to reach the bronze ride-off, with reserve Luke Plapp replacing Porter.

New Zealand's third rider also lost touch with the paceline because of Gates' crash, gifting the Australians the win as they caught the third New Zealander inside the last kilometre.

"You never want to win a bike race that way ... (but) we got dealt a pretty rough hand on day one and it's just a part of the sport," Plapp said.

Teammate Kelland O'Brien added: "To be on that podium, it's pretty deserving for what we've been through."

The crashed ruined Jordan Kerby's hopes of proving a point, after he was cut from the Australian program three years ago and transferred to New Zealand through dual citizenship.

Denmark had built a lead of nearly one second in the gold medal ride, knowing Ganna would power Italy home, and it came down to the last lap.

Italy clocked three minutes 42.032 seconds to beat Denmark by just 0.166 of a second.

There was drama throughout the men's team pursuit, with the Danish world champions coming under scrutiny after all four riders wore medical tape on their shins during qualifying.

The tape curiously was not seen again once other countries informed race judges.

Then Denmark collided with the rear British rider in their Tuesday heat, leaving the Danes furious and generating much conjecture about which team would progress to the final.

The judges took well over an hour before ruling that Denmark would join Italy in the gold medal ride.

Also on Wednesday, Australian Kaarle McCulloch finished second in her keirin repechage heat to progress to Thursday's quarter-finals.

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.

Richardson and Hart were knocked out of the sprint in the first-round repechage.

After the disaster of Rio, even with the team pursuit bronze, it is proving another testing Olympics for the track team - but they have company.

After dominating track cycling at the past three Olympics, Great Britain have lost their men's and women's team pursuit crowns.

Australian Associated Press