GB dethroned in men’s Olympic team pursuit amid Danish crash controversy

Great Britain’s reign as Olympic men’s team pursuit champions ended in bizarre fashion on Tuesday as the Danish rider Frederik Madsen crashed into Charlie Tanfield during their semi-final.

With Britain – Olympic champions in this event since 2008 – among the teams calling for Denmark to be disqualified in a row over illegal equipment used in qualifying, this match-up was already something of a grudge contest, but no one foresaw such an outcome.

A team pursuit is over if one team catches another, but this was an exceptional way to do it as Madsen apparently never saw Tanfield – the late replacement for Ed Clancy after the veteran’s snap retirement – who had been distanced by the two lead British riders.

The UCI deliberated for half an hour before announcing that Denmark would advance to a final against Italy on Wednesday, while Britainwere left empty-handed.

It was all part of a dramatic day that began with news that the 36-year-old Clancy – who rode in Monday’s qualifying session when Britain’s time, fourth fastest on the day, was a national record – was retiring due to a back injury. It then continued when the British Cycling performance director, Stephen Park, confirmed Britain had been one of several teams to call for the Danes’ disqualification over the use of illegal equipment in Monday’s qualifying session.

The team had plasters on their shins to improve their aerodynamics, while also apparently wearing undervests that had not been properly registered in time. Park said that at a lively meeting of teams before Tuesday’s session, the UCI confirmed the equipment could not be used for the rest of the competition, but indicated there would be no retroactive punishment despite rules saying a team should face elimination in such circumstances.

“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,” Park said. “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.”

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