Tokyo Olympic track racing: China wins women’s Team Sprint gold, U.S women’s Pursuit squad sets up battle with Great Britain

U.S. Team Pursuit squad qualifies third as Germany, GB, and the U.S. all beat previous world record; China tops Germany for Team Sprint gold.

Photo: AFP via Getty Images

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The Tokyo Olympic track program kicked off Monday.

Chinese pair Shanju Bao and Tianshi Zhong became the Izu velodrome’s first gold medalists with their blazing ride to Team Sprint triumph, while Germany and Denmark dominated in the women’s and men’s Team Pursuit qualifiers.

Chloe Dygert, Emma White, Jennifer Valente and Lily Williams qualified in third in the Pursuit to set up a first-round heat with Great Britain on Tuesday.

Here’s what happened in the opening day on the boards in Toyko:

China better Germany for women’s Team Sprint gold

Tianshi Zhong and Shanju Bao claimed a gold medal and set a new world record. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

China crushed the qualifiers and backed it up in the finals to win the gold medal Monday.

Bao and Zhong became the first gold medalists on the track in the Tokyo Games as the team successfully defended its title from Rio.

The Chinese pair set a new world and Olympic record with a time of 31.804 in their qualifying round and went on to race a red-hot second lap to edge out Germany’s Emma Hinze and Sophie Friedrich in a thrilling final race for gold.

The Russian Olympic Committee won bronze, narrowly edging out the Netherlands. The Russian athletes hadn’t gone as fast as the Dutch in the qualifiers but seemingly saved something back to shade out their rivals in the race for the podium by less than 0.3 seconds.

Results – Finals

  1. Gold – China: 31.895
  2. Silver – Germany: 31.980
  3. Bronze – ROC: 32.353

USA qualifies third in women’s Team Pursuit

The women’s Team Pursuit squad qualified third to set up a race with GB in the next round. Photo: GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Records tumbled in the women’s Team Pursuit qualifiers.

Germany blasted to a new world record in their early qualifying lap, taking nearly 3 seconds off Great Britain’s time of 4:10.236 from Rio 2016. The quartet of Franziska Brausse, Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein, and Mieke Kroeger set a new benchmark of 4:07.307 in what is the new world and Olympic record.

Team GB and USA promptly also beat the 2016 record when they raced after the Germans, but neither were enough to top Germany’s crushing speed.

The USA’s foursome of Dygert, White, Valente, and Williams was a fraction slower than the British team in their effort, finishing with a time of 4:10.118.

Germany came top in the qualifiers to set up a first-round with Italy, who placed fourth. Second and third-placed Team GB and USA will face-off in a heavyweight matchup in the first round of heats Tuesday.

Australia will race New Zealand and Canada will face France.

Heats –Tuesday:

  • Germany vs Italy
  • United States vs Great Britain
  • Australia vs New Zealand
  • Canada vs France

Demark dominates men’s team pursuit qualifiers, Australian’s bike breaks

Australia’s Alexander Porter suffered a freak mechanical incident. The team was allowed to restart. Photo: GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images

Italy and then Denmark both smashed the men’s Team Pursuit qualifiers to set new Olympic records.

Lasse Norman Hansen motored the Danish quartet that included Frederik Madsen, Rasmus Pedersen and Niklas Larsen to a time of 3:45.014, one second shy of their own world record. They will face Great Britain, who qualified fourth, in Tuesday’s heats.

Italy was second fastest in the qualifiers with a similarly blazing time of 3:45.895 to set up a battle with New Zealand in the next round Tuesday.

There was heartbreak for Australia and Alexander Porter. Porter’s handlebars snapped while riding in fourth position in the Aussie team’s qualifying round, leaving the 25-year-old to faceplant hard onto the boards and come away with burns to his face, forearms, and legs.

The rules meant the Australian team was allowed to restart their effort, but the foursome struggled in the finals, qualifying in fifth. They will race Switzerland in the heats. Canada will battle against Germany on Tuesday.

Heats – Tuesday:

  • Denmark vs Great Britain
  • Italy vs New Zealand
  • Australia vs Switzerland
  • Canada vs Germany

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