Italy set a world record pace to take gold in the Olympic 2020 men's team pursuit final, beating Denmark in a tense final.
The Italians had started fast but in the final 2km started to see their lead over Denmark go the other way. With just over two laps to go though Filippo Ganna took up the front of Italy's line and put in a phenomenal effort to pull them back to just over a 10th of a second ahead of Denmark, narrowly beating the world champions to the line to take gold.
Italy set a new world record time of 3:42.032, just 0.166 ahead of the Danes in an exceptionally fast race.
How it happened
Italy, comparably, had a more straightforward qualifying round compared to Denmark in order to reach the team pursuit final, beating a strong New Zealand team and setting a new world record pace at the same time.
Denmark meanwhile had made it through to the final but had been involved in that bizarre crash with the Great Britain team. Still, both Italy and Denmark looked to be extremely evenly matched heading into the gold medal final.
The Italians - Filippo Ganna, Simone Consonni, Francesco Lamon, and Jonathan Milan - took the initiative in the opening kilometre of the race, riding 0.220 faster than the Danes - Lasse Norman Hansen, Niklas Larsen, Frederik Madsen, and Rasmus Pedersen. That gap diminished slightly heading through the second kilometre, but the Italians still looked strong as they maintained a narrow 0.142-second advantage.
The Danes then flipped the race on its head in kilometre three however, increasing the pace to the point where Italy were now almost a second behind, trailing by 0.867 through the 3000m mark.
But in the final kilometre, with both teams down to three men, the Italians upped the pace again and unleashed their strongest rider, with world time trial champion Filippo Ganna putting in a turn of well over two laps to finish the job for his team, pulling almost second back to pip Denmark to the line by 0.166 seconds.
The time of 3:42.032 is also a new world record, the Italians beating their own time of 3:42.307 from the previous round against New Zealand. Denmark's losing time in the final of 3:42.198 would also have been enough to break the previous record.
Gold medal winners Italy and silver medal winners Denmark will be joined by Australia on the podium. The Australians beat New Zealand in the bronze final, catching the All Blacks after a crash in their pursuit line in the third kilometre saw their medal hopes cruelly destroyed.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, men's team pursuit
4. New Zealand
7. Great Britain
Thank you for reading 20 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1