Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Danish rider crashes into back of GB's Charlie Tanfield during team pursuit heat

The Danes were well ahead in the first round heat before Frederik Madsen rode into the rear of the lone Charlie Tanfield

Frederik Madsen and Charlie Tanfield crash in the team pursuit at Tokyo 2020
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A bizarre crash prematurely ended heat four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games men's team pursuit between Denmark and Great Britain, with two riders hitting the deck in the closing kilometre of the event.

Denmark had bossed the race against GB, over two seconds ahead at the 3000m mark and on course to meet Italy in the gold medal final.

>>> Tokyo 2020 Olympics track cycling LIVE: Live updates from day two

Such were GB's struggles that the late replacement for the injured Ed Clancy, Charlie Tanfield, had been dropped by his two remaining team-mates and he was forced to chase on. The time is taken on the third rider across the line and GB were already down to three riders before Tanfield was dropped.

As he was chasing on the Danish team were quickly closing in on him as they chased a place in the final.

But their leading rider Frederik Madsen had his head tucked down and clearly didn't see the solo GB rider in front of him and ploughed straight into the rear of Tanfield, taking them both down.

Madsen, presumably thinking Tanfield was GB's fourth rider and that he hadn't moved up the track and out the way, immediately issued an angry response to the British rider, who was able to get back on his bike but looked in some pain. 

Despite the incident, Denmark will progress to the men's team pursuit final against Italy on Wednesday. The UCI confirmed that the Danes would compete for the gold medal, meaning the race commissaries deemed that the Danes made the catch against GB despite the crash. 

Team pursuit rules state that a catch is made by a team of three when they are within one metre of the other team's last rider, which Denmark did before the crash.

They will now face a strong Italian team in the final on Thursday. Italy rode to a sensational new world record of 3:42.307 in their heat against New Zealand, beating the record set by Denmark at the World Championships in 2020.

Richard Windsor
Richard Windsor

Richard is digital editor of Cycling Weekly. Joining the team in 2013, Richard became editor of the website in 2014 and coordinates site content and strategy, leading the news team in coverage of the world's biggest races and working with the tech editor to deliver comprehensive buying guides, reviews, and the latest product news.


An occasional racer, Richard spends most of his time preparing for long-distance touring rides these days, or getting out to the Surrey Hills on the weekend on his Specialized Tarmac SL7 (with an obligatory pub stop of course).