Tokyo 2020 Olympics: High drama at velodrome as Denmark controversially beat GB to men's team pursuit final

Great Britain were beaten by Denmark in the men’s team pursuit semi-final but there was high drama at the Izu Velodrome in Tokyo after Danish rider Frederik Madsen crashed into Charlie Madsen during the race.

Frederik Madsen and Charlie Tanfield on the ground after colliding during the Men´s team pursuit
Frederik Madsen and Charlie Tanfield on the ground after colliding during the Men´s team pursuit

Defending champions GB knew the Danes would pose a stern test after the reigning world champions smashed the Olympic record in emphatic style in the qualification round.

There was already tension between the two groups after Great Britain was one of a number of teams to call for Denmark to be disqualified over alleged use of illegal equipment.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

In the team pursuit events, the race is technically over if one team catches the other on the track but with Madsen appearing not to see Tanfield before crashing into the back of the rider – who was a late replacement for Ed Clancy after the 36-year-old announced his immediate retirement this morning – both teams were reduced to two cyclists.

In the team pursuit, the final time is usually taken from the third and final rider to cross the finish line.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), world cycling’s governing body, deliberated for a full half-hour before announing that Denmark would progress to the final at the expense of Britain.

Madsen was heard to shout “F*** them” in the aftermath of the crash, with the BBC forced to apologise for the coarse language, and he was seen remonstrating with Tanfield while the Brit remained on the floor before smacking his helmet off the barrier in anger as he left the track.

Former Olympian Sir Chris Hoy insisted Madsen was to blame for the incident.

"As the lead rider in the team, you always have to keep your eyes on the team you’re pursuing – it’s called the pursuit for good reason.

"[Madsen] clearly wasn’t looking. Charlie Tanfield did the right thing in staying behind and on the black line, that was the Danish rider’s fault.”

Two-time Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton echoed Hoy's sentiment.

“The Danish rider crashes into the back of [Tanfield]," she said on BBC Radio 5 Live. "His head is down he is not looking where he is going.

Equipment row

British Cycling performance director Stephen Park confirmed that Britain had been one of several teams pushing for the Danes to be eliminated from the competition after the team’s riders were seen wearing plasters on their shins in a bid to boost aerodynamics and undervests that had not been accurately registered in time.

While the UCI confirmed that the Danes could not use the equipment in future events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics they stopped short of disqualifying the team despite laws that state a team should be eliminated in such circumstances.

Park said: “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 the undervests.

"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.

“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.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.