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Track Cycling, Tokyo Olympics 2020: Kennys find silver lining on dramatic day in velodrome

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Jason and Laura Kenny – PA

First, the positives. Britain’s cyclists are now just one medal shy of their pre-Games target of eight, with plenty more opportunities over the coming days. Jason Kenny is now the joint-most decorated Olympian of all time in terms of medals won, with eight (six of them gold), and he still has two individual events to run. And it took a couple of staggering performances from Germany and the Netherlands to beat GB’s women’s pursuit and men’s sprint teams into second place. No shame in any of that.

Except, this was not how it was meant to go. A day of head-spinning twists and turns, with protests, cheating allegations, crashes, and retirements, ended with three firsts. GB’s men’s pursuit team lost a race at an Olympics for the first time since 2004. GB’s men’s sprint team lost a race at an Olympics for the first time since 2004. And GB’s women’s pursuit team lost a race for the first time.

Britain’s track hegemony was never going to last forever. We knew that. But still, when it happened, it felt somehow shocking. In an hour, all the old certainties were pulled down. The Jason and Laura Show buffering. Laura Kenny had never lost at an Olympic event she had entered. The 29-year-old was four from four heading into yesterday’s women’s team pursuit. But from the moment the day began with news that Ed Clancy, the three-time Olympic champion, was withdrawing from the competition with a back injury, it felt like the end of an era.

Although the GB quartet of Kenny, Katie Archibald, Neah Evans, and Josie Knight qualified for the final with a world record time of 4:06.748, they stumbled slightly on the warm-down, Archibald crashing into Evans. They then had to watch as Germany, the surprise package of these track championships so far, lowered the world record again in their semi-final with a 4:06.159.


Could GB eke out a few more tenths? It proved irrelevant. Germany smashed the world record in the final by a full two seconds, posting a 4:04.242 to win by a country mile as the British quartet got increasingly ragged, finishing in 4:10.607.

Archibald denied that the crash after the first round had had an effect. “It was mainly my pride that was hurt,” she said. “I’m hopeful many people had a lie-in and only got up for the final, but I know it’s one of those clips that will be played repeatedly. I wanted the ground to swallow me up as I slid into her.

I feel as much shame as you can imagine a person would feel.” Archibald added that the decision to swap out Elinor Barker for Neah Evans was tactical and denied it would have made a difference in the final. Kenny, sitting next to her, agreed. Germany was just too good. “They were phenomenal; you can’t take anything away from them,” she said. “That is incredible; that’s going to be a record that stands for a long time, I think.”

Track Cycling, Tokyo Olympics 2020 live: Kennys find the silver lining on a dramatic day in Velodrome

One hour later, her husband Jason Kenny said almost precisely the same about the Dutch. Again, the GB men had performed valiantly in their semi-final clash, posting an Olympic record and personal best of 41.829; it lasted minutes as the Dutch, who have taken this event on in the last few years, set a 41.431. In sprinting terms, four-tenths is an age.

The writing was on the wall. “We were out of it before we went in,” admitted man two Jack Carlin. “Four-tenths is huge. So we gambled.” The GB team ‘geared up’ by putting on even more giant gears to produce something seismic, but the gamble did not come off. The Dutch were fresher and faster and could swap men between the two rounds as they did not have a pursuit team and therefore brought an extra sprinter.

In the final, they lowered the OR again to 41.369, whereas Britain completely fell apart, Carlin at man two losing contact with Ryan Owens, Kenny at man three losing contact with Carlin. “They were better than us today, simple as that,” Kenny conceded, adding that he disagreed it was the end of an era. “I don’t think so. We’ve always been on the right side of the few-tenths it takes to win. This time, we were on the wrong side.”

Maybe, but it did not help the general feeling of discombobulation. Kenny then succeeded that comment with a rather gloomy one looking ahead to his chances in the sprint and the keirin over the coming days. “I think my best chance of being on the podium was probably in that event.”

Day two of track cycling, as it happened . . .

09:109:16 amon Kenny: Every time you come back, it gets harder

After winning his eighth medal to join Sir Bradley Wiggins as Britain’s most successful Olympian – Kenny has six golds and two silvers, while Wiggins won five golds, one silver, and two bronze medals – Jason Kenny has said he thought he was ‘rubbish’ in the team sprint final against the Dutch, but winning silver was ‘special’. Speaking to the BBC, Kenny said: “It was perfect. We poured our hearts into the second ride to get into the final and then rolled the dice.

“We knew we had ground to make up, and I had nothing in the final. It was rubbish, but we tried so hard to get there. “It’s extraordinary. Every time you come back, it gets harder.” On landing silver in the women’s team pursuit, Jason’s wife Laura Kenny became the fourth British woman to win at least five medals at the Olympics – the others being Charlotte Dujardin (six), Katherine Grainger (five), and Kitty McKane (five) – while their household now has an incredible 13 medals stuffed away in the sock cupboard, or wherever the couple keeps their gold and silver gongs.

08:508:56 match win men’s team sprint gold

The Netherlands set the fastest first lap, and although Britain appeared to be fighting back, they could not do anything about the mighty Dutch, who had just been crowned Olympic champions. Ryan Owens and Jack Carlin take silver while their teammate Jason Kenny goes level with Sir Bradley Wiggins on eight Olympic medals.

08:508:54 Netherlands vs. Great Britain: men’s team sprint final

Ryan Owens, Jack Carlin, and Jason Kenny are up against Jeffrey Hoogland, Harrie Lavreysen, and Roy van den Berg, the Dutch making one change from the Team that reached the final. The arrival of fresh-legged Hoogland may give the Dutch a slight advantage.

08:508:52 and win bronze . . .

. . . after the Australian trio falls apart way too early.

08:508:50 am’s team sprint finals are taking place . . .

. . . and yet again, there has been some drama in the match between Germany and the riders from the Russian Olympic Committee, aka the Russians. It looks as if Germany got the upper hand, but as has been the case for much of the session, there’s a lot of confusion about what happened. After New Zealand beat Poland to take the seventh spot, there was a false start and a little more mess in the race for fifth. Anyway, next up is the race for bronze between France and Australia before Britain faces the Dutch in the final.

08:308:36 Tammany won gold with a world record time

What an incredible ride from the German quartet of Franziska Brausse, Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein, and Mieke Kröger, who ended Team GB’s dominance of the women’s team pursuit at the Olympics with a world record time of 4min 4.242sec. That’s just a few seconds slower than the men were racing in Athens, absolutely brilliant stuff from Germany. The British take silver.

08:308:35 Amman to win gold

Germany is reduced to three riders after 2.75km but shows no sign of slowing. With 500 meters to go, the Germans have Team GB in their sights and are on course for a speedy time here today.

08:308:34 amm GB losing time

They are over two seconds down at the midway point in this race and have left themselves an awful lot to do, perhaps too much.

08:308:32 am Many extend their lead. . .

. . . and Team GB are over a second down after just 1,00 meters.

08:308:32 amm GB trail after 500 meters. . . .

. . . marginally.

08:308:31 am, they’re off!

Franziska Brausse pulls off for Germany; Katie Archibald for Britain.

08:29 AM

Team GB vs. Germany in the race for women’s team pursuit gold

Here we go; Team GB is about to get their race for gold against Germany underway. Franziska Brausse, Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein, and Mieke Kröger, remember, are flying and are the world record holders – set today – and so it is no given that Laura Kenny and her teammates Katie Archibald, Neah Evans, and Josie Knight will be taking home gold, far from it. This could be a very close race.

08:208:28 am clinch bronze . . .

. . . after a strong final few laps.

08:208:24 ame for bronze ins underway . . .

North American neighbors, the United States and Canada are on track. Can Chloe Dygert inspire her compatriots to victory, which would assure the USA a bronze medal in the track cycling competition?

08:208:21 Australia beat Italy . . .

. . . to finish in fifth place.

08:108:17 Meanwhile, back on the track . . .

France beat New Zealand to finish seventh in the women’s team pursuit, while Australia has their race against Italy underway.

08:008:07 amch go faster again . . .

Team GB is now guaranteed two medals on the track today in the women’s team pursuit and men’s team sprint, but what colored pieces of metal will be going home with the Kennys et al.? This track is fast. The Dutch trio set an Olympic record of 41.431sec to beat Poland and set up a showdown with Jason Kenny and fellow Britons Jack Carlin and Ryan Owens.

08:008:03 amm GB vs. Germany in men’s team sprint. . .

. . . and it is the British who progress with yet another Olympic record time of 41.829sec. Next up is the Dutch vs. Poland.

08:008:02 am mark through to team pursuit final, according to reports

Not entirely sure where the BBC is getting their information from, but they are saying the Danes are through at the expense of Team GB. The finals are tomorrow, so the decision may not be confirmed for some time yet – one suspects there will be appeals, complaints, and lots of head-scratching in the track center right now. Here’s what the International Cycling Union rules state, which is not good reading for those sitting at home in their Union flag pajamas.

In the last two heats of the first competition round, if one Team catches the other, the catching Team is declared the winner and shall stop as soon as possible to allow the other Team to finish the distance and thus record a time. In this case, if one or both teams catch their opponents, the times from the qualifying round shall be used to determine which of the two teams shall finish in the home straight.

If one Team is caught by the other during the finals, the race is over, and the catching Team shall be declared the winner. In both situations above, a pistol shot marks the end of the race when the Team crosses its finish line at the full distance or at the moment on which one Team catches the other.

08:008:01 Australia set Olympic record in men’s team sprint

We will let you know when we have more news or updates on the men’s team pursuit situation. The men’s team sprint heats are underway; France beat New Zealand before Australia brushed aside the Russian Olympic Committee with an Olympic record time of 42.103sec.

07:507:52 Amos is on track!

After Team GB fell apart with their quartet reduced to three riders – split into two groups – Dane Frederik Madsen rear-ended Charlie Tanfield taking him down at great speed. To qualify for the next round, three riders need to cross the line to register a time; both Team GB and Denmark only had two riders still upright. Not entirely sure what happens next, but I think Denmark may be saying goodbye to the chance of winning Olympic gold.

Frederik Madsen collided with Charlie Tanfield – SWPIX.COM

07:407:49 am marked overhaul Team GB . . .

. . . and the Danes, coached by British aerodynamicist Dan Bigham, are taking control.

07:407:48 amm GB off to a fast start

Surprisingly, Team GB is faster than world champions Denmark after 1,000 meters of racing.

07:407:46 may set a world record!

After appearing on track throughout the best part of the race, Italy blows away the world record. Filippo Ganna, the individual team pursuit world champion, did a huge turn on the front to drag his teammates around and stun the velodrome to complete their race in a blistering time of 3min 42.307sec, which surely, means they will contest for bronze later this morning. Laura Kenny is spotted track center looking aghast.

07:407:41 amm GB claim Danes should be disqualified

By Tom Cary, Senior Sports Correspondent in Izu

A major row has kicked off ahead of Great Britain’s first-round ride against world record holders Denmark in the team pursuit, with British Cycling performance director Stephen Park telling a few journos here in Izu that he believes the Danes ought to have been disqualified for wearing illegal shin-tape and undervests in qualifying yesterday.

Park says the shin tape is illegal as it falls foul of the ruling that you must not apply “any material or substance onto the skin or clothing which is not itself an item of clothing.” And the undervests, he says, were not commercially available on Jan 1 as UCI rules state they must be. He says the “source code” online appears to have changed in the last 24hrs to make it look like the garments were available on Jan 1.

Park says “multiple teams” protested, and there was a big meeting earlier today where commissaries conceded the rules had been broken. Therefore Denmark would not be allowed to use the tape or the undervests in their ride today, but they would not be disqualified. Park argues that was the “only option” for “deliberately turning up in breach of the regulations”.

07:307:39 Australia bounces back in style

Following the crash from Alexander Porter that did for Australia’s team pursuit hopes on Monday, Australia set an Olympic record of 3min 44.902sec to put themselves in the box seat to challenge for a bronze medal. Of course, they will go into the race for third place if Italy or New Zealand go faster. Who said track cycling was complicated?

07:307:34 Amanda keeps hopes of a bronze medal alive with a national record

Canada beat Germany in their men’s team pursuit heat race, setting a national record time of 3min 46.769sec. That may be enough for them to contest for a bronze medal later today, but that will depend on the times set in the heat between the Swiss and Australia.

07:207:24 amm GB second best to flying Dutchmen

Ryan Owens took up man one position and set off at a blistering pace with the fastest opening lap of the day. Jack Carlin replaced Owens before Jason Kenny finished it off to clock the second-fastest time of the day (42.231sec). As a result, Team GB will face Germany in their heat and must beat them to progress to the race for gold.

07:207:21 and third fastest… Team GB poised to race

France clocked a time of 42.722sec, the third-fastest of the day before the New Zealand trio of Sam Dakin, Ethan Mitchell, and Sam Webster completed their race in 43.066sec – the fourth quickest. Team GB’s Jason Kenny, Ryan Owens, and Jack Carlin are nesting up.

07:107:17 am at those flying Dutchmen!

The Dutch trio of Matthijs Büchli, Harrie Lavreysen, and Roy van den Berg overhauled the Olympic record that stood for roughly a minute or so. The new Olympic benchmark is 42.134sec.

07:107:12 Australian set Olympic record in men’s team sprint qualifying

Such is the nature of track racing at the Olympics, where there is barely a moment for spectators to catch a breath; the qualifying races in the men’s team sprint are very much underway. The Australian trio of Matthew Richardson, Nathan Hart, and Matthew Glaetzer has just completed their race and set the fastest time of the day with an Olympic record of 42.371sec.

07:007:01 Tammany breaks world record to progress to final

Germany beat a ragged-looking Italy, whose women’s team pursuit squad fell apart at the midway point of the race, to reach the final, where they will face Team GB. Worryingly for the British force, the Germans broke Team GB’s world record a few minutes ago to set up a mouthwatering final. That new record is 4min 6.159sec.

06:506:51 amm GB beat the USA with a world record time

That’s the way to do it. Team GB’s women set a world record time of 4min 6.748sec to hit the USA and go into the team pursuit final, where they will contest for a gold medal. There is a touching of wheels between Katie Archibald and, I think, Neah Evans causing the pair to crash, but it does not appear that either is too bashed up.

Neah Evans and Katie Archibald – GETTY IMAGES

06:506:50 amm GB holding on . . .

. . . at the 3km mark as they are reduced to three riders.

06:406:49 amm GB inch ahead of USA . . .

. . . but it is close. This is just too close to call.

06:406:48 am Lead after 1km

Katie Archibald started strong for Team GB, but the USA was the fastest after four of the 4,000m (16 laps) races.

06:406:47 amm GB vs USA

No Elinor Barker, a multiple gold medallists, in this event, but Team GB is ready to go head-to-head with the USA. Whoever wins this race will go into the race for the gold medal later this morning.

06:406:45 Amanda trounces France

Both teams were reduced to three riders for the final few laps, and the French started to struggle toward the end of their race. In the end, Canada knocked them out of the park setting a national record time of 4min 9.249sec, which is also faster than Australia’s time, to beat France (4min 11.888sec) by over two seconds.

06:306:37 Australia wins ding-dong heat with Kiwis

Australia appeared in control midway through the 4,000m women’s team pursuit race with New Zealand, but the Kiwis clawed their way back into contention in the third quarter. In the end, however, the Aussies regained control despite a riding-ragged final lap winning in a time of 4min 9.992sec. The Kiwis are going at 4min 10.223sec – the finals are determined by the heats’ times.

06:306:32 am, they’re off!

New Zealand women and their Aussie rivals are out on the boards for their first-round heat. Following a polite ripple of applause from the under-capacity crowd and the customary ‘beeps’ to signify the countdown to the start of racing, both squads get the day’s action underway.

06:206:29 Maker out, Evans in . . .

Neah Evans will replace Elinor Barker in Great Britain’s women’s team pursuit line-up later this morning when they face the United States in their first-round heat race. Seems like a pretty busy morning in the Team GB camp with all these late changes and announcements.

06:006:02 Agency announces retirement from Great Britain cycling team

We were not expecting a huge test against world champions Denmark in the men’s team pursuit heats. Ed Clancy, the 36-year-old three-time Olympic gold medallist in the event and the most experienced rider in the squad, has withdrawn from the Games, meaning his Olympic career is over.

Ed Clancy – PA

This morning, British Cycling issued a statement saying Clancy had withdrawn due to an ongoing back and sciatica issue. “I’m gutted that my Olympic career has ended this way, but it would be unfair of me to try to carry on now I have aggravated my back injury,” Clancy said in the statement.

“Ultimately, I want the rest of the lads to build on our hard work over the past year and a half and give them the best possible chance of making it onto the podium. I will be supporting them all the way.”

“I’ve spent over 20 years on the Great Britain Cycling Team and see it as my family. I have achieved more during my time than I ever could have dreamed; it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life. I want to thank everyone – family, friends, coaches, trade teams, sponsors, British Cycling, and everyone else who has supported me – my career success has been a big team effort. It’s been a pleasure, to the extent that if I could return, I would do it again. It’s a tough call because I’m enjoying it more now than I ever have, but the difficult choice is usually the right one, and right now is the time to go.

“In terms of what’s next, I still love riding bikes, and I plan on rounding out the season competing in UCI Track Champions League and focusing on building up the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy. I also really enjoy my ambassadorial role with Pro-Noctis, so I would like to do more with them, and I would love to stay connected with British Cycling. I have plenty of options, but right now, I will put all my energy into supporting the Great Britain Cycling Team in Tokyo.”

Stephen Park, British Cycling performance director, added: “I admire Ed for deciding to retire from the sport which he still has a strong passion for. He can hold his head high, knowing he was part of the quartet that posted the fourth-fastest time in an event we know would be incredibly competitive. I know it was tough for him to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games because of his back issues. Still, his professionalism and honesty led him to make this decision.

“Through his domination in the team pursuit and by winning three consecutive Olympic gold medals, Ed has played a big part in driving the event forward, to the extent where we are witnessing the times we saw posted in Berlin and what we saw yesterday in qualifying.

“Away from the bike, Ed embodies the values of our Team and has become a trusted mentor to his younger teammates. It’s been a pleasure to support Ed with his fantastic achievements, and on behalf of everyone on the Great Britain Cycling Team, I wish him the best of luck for the future, and I hope he keeps some involvement with us.

“Regarding the team pursuit events taking place today, Charlie Tanfield will join Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon, and Ollie Wood in the line-up.”

05:505:50 amning

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from the second day of the Olympics track cycling at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, Japan.

As you can see from the below schedule, it is another packed program of racing, with the heats of the women’s team pursuit kicking off proceedings in earnest with the four races determining who will, later on, contest for medals. As you will be aware, Team GB faces a tough test in the USA and, should they progress, then arguably a tougher test yet should they end up going toe-to-toe with Germany, who set a world record (4min 7.307sec) in qualifying on Monday.

Once that is over, the men’s team sprint competition kicks off with their qualifying races before the men’s team pursuit squads contest their heat races ahead of Wednesday’s finals. For those of a Team GB persuasion, the British quartet Ed Clancy, Ollie Wood, Ethan Hayter, and Ethan Vernon face world record holders Denmark at around 8.408.40 am Tuesday morning for a place in the gold medal ride. It will be a huge surprise if Team GB were to win that race, but let’s see what happens on the boards, shall we?

Ethan Hayter (left to right), Ethan Vernon, Ollie Wood, and Ed Clancy – SWPIX.COM

The men’s team sprint heats follow before the women’s team pursuit finals are contested. Finally, the session winds up with the team sprint finals. In theory, riding with Ryan Owens and Jack Carlin, Jason Kenny could become Britain’s most successful Olympian of all time later today if he were to leapfrog his old teammate Sir Chris Hoy and win a seventh gold medal in the team sprint. As I mentioned yesterday, though, this is the first international track cycling meeting since February 2020 – pre-lockdown – so it is almost impossible to predict much the form of the riders is broadly unknown, so I shall leave the speculation for others to muse over.

Jason Kenny – AP

It should be a highly entertaining morning of racing, with our live blog firing back up and into action when the first race starts at 7.307.30 am:504:51 words tumbled on opening day.

By Tom Cary, Senior Sports Correspondent in Shizuoka

World records tend to tumble on the first day of track cycling at an Olympics, with all that shiny new kit and pent-up energy. It was no surprise to see the world record tumble in women’s team pursuit qualifying on the opening day of the track competition in Izu yesterday. The only surprise was who broke it.


Laura Kenny’s bid for a historic fifth Olympic gold medal today – the first of three attempts from the four-time Olympic champion this week as she seeks to reestablish herself as Britain’s most successful female Olympian – will face a stern examination this morning after Germany came from nowhere yesterday to annihilate Great Britain’s old world record. Usually, it is Great Britain doing the demolition. In fact, since women’s team pursuit was added to the Olympics in 2012, Britain has lowered their world record at every round of every game.

This time Germany got in there first. Their time of 4:07.307 obliterated the previous mark of 4:10.236 set by Great Britain in the final in Rio five years ago. And while the Great Britain quartet of Kenny, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, and Josie Knight also managed to beat their old-time, clocking 4:09.022, that still left them 1.7sec off the pace and meant they could only qualify second quickest for this morning’s ‘first round’, or semi-final.

Chloe Dygert, the individual pursuit world record holder, arrived at these Games off the back of minimal racing following a horrific accident at last year’s road world championships. That means they must face off against arch-rivals in the United States at 7.447.44 am morning. Only if successful in that match-up will Kenny and co go on to face the winner of Germany versus Italy – almost certainly Germany on yesterday’s evidence – in the gold medal ride at around 9.309.30 the ame United States will be no pushovers.

And she did not look to be in great form in the road race or the time trial. But she still dragged her Team around the track yesterday, even riding away from them towards the finish. If they can stay on her wheel, she could well carry them to a much faster time. Likewise, Great Britain, with Archibald looking by far their strongest rider and riding clear of Kenny and Barker in the final 500m after Knight had earlier dropped out.

Either way, there was no denying the shock at what Germany produced. “I think we were focusing on America and Great Britain, and Germany was [seen as] a threat, but that is an incredible time,” said Sir Chris Hoy on the BBC, who noted the time was even more impressive as it was set in qualifying.

“You’ve got to remember that [time] is with a single team on the track. Two teams broke the world record [in Rio] on the track, and you get an aerodynamic benefit from two teams circulating simultaneously. It makes that performance even more impressive. The Germans stayed together really well. The Americans and GB were a little bit ragged towards the end. That gap [to Archibald] opened up, and GB probably lost half a second.”

Barker, though, sounded optimistic, saying she felt Germany was beatable. “I hope so,” she said. “They’ve not always been the most consistent, but we haven’t seen them for a year and a half, so maybe it’s something they’ve worked on. It will certainly be interesting. I think it was about 1.6 seconds [the gap], so that’s very much in the realms of what is possible.” However, Great Britain had to get past the USA, with Barker conceding that Dygert was looking formidable again.

“It did look that way. It would be interesting to see what their exchange of pace is. She’s doing very well on a personal level, anyway. Maybe we came out a bit too strong ourselves and paid for that slightly towards the back end, but lucky for us, we have our not-so-secret weapon in Katie to bring it all to the finish.”

Archibald, meanwhile, hinted that they might make changes between this morning’s two rounds, with Neah Evans also available for selection. “We brought a team of five, so that was always on the cards with an hour and a half gap tomorrow,” she said. “Backing up becomes important.”