Italy won the Olympic track cycling men’s team pursuit gold with another world record on Wednesday, edging out Denmark in a thrilling race.
The team of Simone Consonni, Filippo Ganna, Francesco Lamon and Jonathan Milan, who already broke the world record on Tuesday on the quick Izu track, bettered it with 3 minutes 42.032 seconds over 4 kilometres.
Italy led early before the world champion Danes took over and it was close at the bell, the Scandinavians ultimately denied despite going 3:42.198, faster than the mark set by the Italians in the heats the day before.
“This is a big, big gift for all the group because it’s been five years that we started working for this, so we are so happy,” said Italy’s Lamon.
“We have a beautiful, beautiful team like a family, so, for me and for us, it’s an honour to be part of this group.”
It was a first gold for Italy in men’s team pursuit since 1960 and their sixth gold in Tokyo across all sports.
Having already won football’s Euro 2020 and had a Wimbledon runner-up in Matteo Berrettini, Italy’s strong sports summer has continued with 100 metres men’s gold going to Lamont Marcell Jacobs among other standout performances in Tokyo.
Ganna, the world road time trial champion who missed out in the Tokyo race last week, was especially impressive on the final lap in Italy’s cycling triumph.
Davide Cassani, Italy’s national cycling team coordinator, told the Ansa news agency: “I’m the happiest man in the world. I have tears in my eyes. I really enjoyed it because I knew that the finale was up to Ganna.”
Australia took bronze in the team pursuit after easily beating New Zealand following Regan Gough’s crash.
Britain were only seventh after three consecutive golds from 2008 as their golden generation of track cyclists continues to dwindle.
The Danes had beaten Britain on Tuesday despite Frederik Madsen crashing into the wheel of Charlie Tanfield. The result was upheld while a petition by some teams against Denmark’s use of undergarments and shin tape had already been thrown out.
They came so close against the Italians.
Denmark’s Lasse Norman Hansen said: “We’re incredibly disappointed right now. We’ve been training towards and hoping for gold for such a long time. Today we lost to a team that went a few hundredths faster than us. That is devastating, but we can still be proud of silver.”
Also on Wednesday, Germany’s 2020 world champion Emma Hinze had trouble in the women’s Keirin, initially failing to make it out of the first round heats and needing the repechage to reach the quarter-finals.
The Dutch topped men’s sprint qualifying at the Izu Velodrome, where the 200 metre flying time trials served as qualifiers.
Jeffrey Hoogland and Harrie Lavreysen both clocking 9.215 seconds for an Olympic record, although only Hoogland was credited after riding first. Each cyclist did 3.5 laps of the Izu velodrome, with the last 200 metres against the clock.
In the subsequent men’s sprint heats, Hoogland got through as did 2012 and 2016 champion Jason Kenny of Britain.
The men’s sprint continues on Thursday, including the quarter-finals, as does the women’s Keirin including the final. The men’s omnium is also on Thursday.