GB men's pursuit 'held it together, just about' as they squeeze through with gold and silver still on the table

Great Britain qualified fourth, the last spot that can compete for gold and silver, yet face a tough test against Denmark

Tokyo Olympics
(Image credit: Getty)

Great Britain's men's team pursuit squad squeezed through the qualifying round with an outside shot at gold and silver still a possibility, but with the fastest team of the Games so far, Denmark, standing in their way in tomorrow's heats.

Denmark, resplendent in aerodynamic shin plasters, set the fastest time in qualifying, a new Olympic record of 3:45.014, the first and fourth seeds facing off, while the winner second and third place, Italy and New Zealand, will take the other slot in the gold medal race.

"In our quick debrief between getting off the track and coming here, we weren’t in the place we wanted to be there," Ed Clancy said at the finish of GB's performance.

"This track is quick and it’s at a bit of altitude but not enough to affect physical performance so much."

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While Italy was the first to break the Olympic record set by the British squad in Rio, it didn't stand for long as the world record-breaking Danish outfit took to the track and eclipsed the best time seen at an Olympic Games. Clancy, however, is surprised more teams didn't go faster than his country's previous best time.

"We weren’t surprised at all to be honest. We were fully prepared for everyone to be quick, perhaps four or five teams to break the world record," he said.

"If anything, I was sort of surprised that more teams weren't going quicker, including ourselves to be fair." 

After GB went down to three men with five laps to go, riders two and three behind Ethan Hayter were gapped in the last lap, with Clancy saying the quartet just about managed to hold it all together.

"That was me, losing the wheel," Clancy said. "Someone’s got to go [the] full distance, and someone’s got to start as well.

"We train for this sort of stuff but it’s a bit like a house of cards, as soon as one thing falls down, it all collapses in. We sort of held it together there, just about."

Tomorrow's heats will be followed by the finals on Wednesday, with those not in the gold medal race being sorted by fastest times, and the two quickest going into the bronze medal race.

Jonny Long

Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races.


Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab and I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).


I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.