Tokyo 2020 - Ganna inspires Italy to remarkable Team Pursuit gold and new world record
A stunning performance at the Izu Velodrome continued a remarkable summer of sport for Italy as the inspirational Filippo Ganna drove their men's team pursuit four to a world record and a gold medal in the track cycling on Wednesday. You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+.
'Absolutely remarkable' - Italy celebrate team pursuit golden glory
Italy claimed gold with an extraordinary world record in the men’s team pursuit to stun Denmark at the Tokyo Olympics.
An extraordinary final saw the two dominant forces in the event go head-to-head, and the race delivered in spades, with both teams over world record pace and Italy only overhauling Denmark right inside the final half lap.
It was road time trial world champion Filippo Ganna who led the Italians home, with Eurosport’s Bradley Wiggins saying that the 25-year-old was the difference between the two nations.
“What a final that was,” Wiggins said. “Ganna has just won the Italians that, it’s a four-man race yes, but Ganna! I think it was a two-and-a-quarter lap turn he did at the end there, bringing it down by a tenth every half lap split. He did it himself.
I know it’s a four-man race, but it was evenly matched throughout, and Ganna’s last turn is team pursuit excellence and individual excellence.
"It is a team race, but somehow you need someone with some star quality to pull it home like that. Brilliant to see the Italians back on top.”
'Wow, Italy steal it!' - Watch the thrilling finish to team pursuit final
“It was a bit strange,” said Mark Cavendish, who has joined Discovery’s coverage for the track cycling. “Madsen’s not looking where he’s going. Everyone is doing everything for points of a second using aerodynamics. And one of the things for that is to look down, to tuck your head in and not see where you’re going.
“He’s looking through his arms at the black line to see where to go and he’s not looking straight ahead and thinks the other team is well ahead. The two guys behind they see what’s going to happen and move up.
“For sure it’s Madsen’s fault, but this has never happened before, I don’t know what the protocol is for whether they have caught them or not. GB got back on and finished, so technically they are the ones that finished, although they couldn’t have gone for the gold and silver ride-off anyway. But you want things to be fair.”
Australia took bronze with victory over New Zealand, with the Kiwis going down to three riders early after a crash.
Team GB’s pursuit team were back on the bike after Tuesday’s drama and won their final ride by a huge four-second margin to seal a seventh-place finish that was “tinged with sadness” according to commentator Carlton Kirby.
“It would have been heartbreak for them yesterday,” Eurosport pundit and two-time Olympic champion Jo Rowsell added. “But this ride was almost two seconds quicker than in qualifying and a fantastic national record.
“They came here looking for a medal, that wasn’t meant to be. But we’ve got a very young team here, hats off to these guys, they’ve knocked over five seconds off the national record.”
'A thrilling race' Mark Cavendish breaks down Italy's team pursuit strategy
But Wednesday's team pursuit finals will be remembered for Italy and Ganna's brilliance, as Cavendish told Reshmin Chowdhury in the Eurosport Cube.
“Everyone expected Denmark to be the ones to aim to beat. But Italy have come in and been spectacular," he said.
“Especially with Filippo Ganna, he rode the road time trial remember, he’s reigning time trial world champion. It didn’t quite go how he wanted it to, but he’s come straight off the road to ride the track – it’s two different sports.
“Okay, they’re both wheels and pedals and a saddle, but fair play to Ganna, he’s doing full kilometres on the front and still lifting the pace. It’s an absolute joy.”
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