Tokyo Olympic track racing: Italy blazes to men’s Team Pursuit gold medal and world record in thriller with Denmark

Women's Keirin and men's Sprint racing also light up the third day as U.S. rider Maddie Godby progresses to Thursday's quarter-finals.

Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

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Day three of the Tokyo Olympic track program saw yet more records falling.

Italy narrowly won a nailbiter of a Team Pursuit to get the gold medal and set a new world record of 3:42.032. The Italian four narrowly beat the world champions Denmark who took the silver medals. Australia took bronze after winning silver in the Rio Games.

There was also a stack of qualification rounds on the third day on the Izu track. The women’s Keirin racing saw Maddie Godby (USA) make it through to Thursday’s quarter-finals, as did the Canadians Kelsey Mitchell and Lauriane Genest.

The Canadian men had less luck in the Individual Sprint, with neither Nick Wammes nor Hugo Barrette progressing to Thursday’s races.

Team Pursuit finals

The Italian team beat its own world record and won gold. Photo: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

It was a thrilling clash of the titans in the gold medal final between Italy and Denmark.

Italy took the early lead before the race yo-yoed either way. Denmark piled on the afterburners through kilometer three to winch out a strong gap that looked insurmountable only for the Italian trio to make a dramatic comeback in the final 500 meters to take gold.

The Italian squad lapped the track almost in disbelief before roaring with triumph after setting a new world record of 3:42.032 and winning by less than 0.2 seconds. The team finished sixth in the 2016 Games.

There was a dramatic fall in the bronze medal final between New Zealand and Australia.

The fourth Kiwi rider in the formation touched wheels with the rider in front and hit the boards hard midway through the race. The New Zealand team’s final three soon lost structure and dropped their last man, forcing them to slow, reform and so open the door for Australia to bag the bronze medal. The fallen rider was without serious injury.

Canada blasted out of the gate fast but soon lost a rider in the race with Germany for fifth. The final three of Michael Foley, Derek Gee, and Jay Lamoureux held strong to take the win and set a new national record with a time of 3:46.324.

Great Britain put Tuesday’s drama to bed to beat Switzerland in their round to finish seventh.

Team Pursuit finals:

  1. Italy (Gold)
  2. Denmark (Silver)
  3. Australia (Bronze)

Women’s Keirin qualifiers and repechages

Maddie Godby (USA) made it through to Thursday’s races.

U.S. track star Maddie Godby and the Canadian Lauriane Genest both progressed through their race after taking one-two in the six-rider heat that they both started. They will race in the quarter-finals Thursday.

There was a surprise when reigning Keirin world champ Emma Hinze of Germany didn’t qualify through her round and was forced to race in the repechages (second-chance rounds). Hinze’s heat was won convincingly by Canadian rider Kelsey Mitchell.

Hinze promptly went on to place second in her repechage heat to progress through to Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Hong Kong speedster and top favorite Lee Wai Sze was similarly surprised when she was forced into the repechages but bounced back to win her final race and make it through to the next round. Kaarle McCulloch (Australia) was another top contender that had put an extra race in her legs in order to go through to Thursday’s races by qualifying in the repechage.

Meanwhile, GB’s Katy Marchant also had to duke it out in the repechage, despite winning her heat, after she was relegated for entering the sprinters’ lane when a competitor was already there.

Keirin quarter-finals (Thursday)

Heat 1:

  • Marchant (GBR)
  • Hinze (GER)
  • Lee (HKG)
  • Van Riessen (NED)
  • Shmeleva (ROC)
  • Starikova (UKR)

Heat 2:

  • Genest (CAN)
  • Gros (FRA)
  • Friedrich (GER)
  • Gaxiola Gonzales (MEX)
  • Brasspenninckx (NED)
  • Andrews (NZL)

Heat 3:

  • Godby (USA)
  • McCulloch (AUS)
  • Mitchell (CAN)
  • Zhong (CHN)
  • Kobajashi (JAP)
  • Basova (UKR)

Men’s Sprint qualifiers and repechages

Jeffrey Hoogland muscled his way through the opening rounds of sprints. Photo: PETER PARKS/AFP via Getty Images

Hotly-tipped Dutch duo Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen topped the sprint qualifiers, setting the exact same time in the flying 200, and then went on to win their next rounds.

The Canadians Nick Wammes and Hugo Barrette also made it through the first round of qualifiers. Wammes bettered the German Stefan Boetticher in his 1/32 final to move onto the next round, only to be beaten in the 1/16 final. He didn’t make it through the repechage and is out of the competition.

Barrette was forced into the repechages in the 1/32 and similarly failed to progress from there.

Leading contender and Olympic powerhouse Jason Kenny (Great Britain) won his 1/32 final to advance through to the next round. The Brit went on to withhold a surprise late charge from home favorite Yuta Wakimoto in the 1/16 round to see his way through to Thursday’s races and keep his hopes alive for a record third gold medal.

Wakimoto came through his repechage to make it to the 1/8 finals and keep Japanese hopes alive.


Men’s Sprint 1/8 finals (Thursday):

  • Jeffrey Hoogland (NED) v Mohd Asisulhasni Awang (MAS)
  • Harrie Lavreysen (NED) v Muhammad Shah Firdaus Sahrom (MAS)
  • Jack Carlin (GBR) v Sebastian Vigier (FRA)
  • Nicholas Paul (TTO) v Yuta Wakimoto (JPN)
  • Denis Dmitriev (ROC) v Jason Kenny (GBR)
  • Maximilian Levy (GER) v Sam Webster (NZL)

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