Tokyo 2020 Olympics track cycling day one: Records smashed in both team pursuits despite shock crash, and cycling gold for China

The first day of action on the track in Japan

Tokyo Olympics
(Image credit: Getty)

An opening day of track cycling at the Tokyo Olympics filled with records and riders tumbling, a crash for Australia in the men's team pursuit as first Italy and then Denmark broke Olympic records in the event.

Denmark, Italy, New Zealand and Great Britain will now compete for gold tomorrow in the team pursuit, while in the women's event Germany smashed GB's world record, qualifying as the first seed, while the old record holders came in second, USA and Italy third and fourth respectively.

China won gold in the women's team sprint, beating Germany who had to settle for silver, while ROC bested the Netherlands to take bronze.

China power to gold in women's team sprint

Tokyo Olympics

(Image credit: Getty)

Eight teams lined up for the team sprint qualifiers, with all of them set to proceed through to the finals a few hours later, and these opening two-lap timed progressions needed for seeding.

Germany set the fastest time of 32.102 seconds, followed by China in second with 32.135 and the Netherlands and ROC slightly further back. Mexico, Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine then followed in that order in the bottom four.

ROC beat Mexico in the first heat, the Netherlands then ousting Poland, slower than the ROC, before China beat their own world record from Rio 2016 with a 31.804 as they disposed with Lithuania.

Germany and Ukraine was the final heat, with Germany needing a faster time than the Netherlands to make the final, and went faster than China's old 2016 world record with a time of 31.905.

After the minor places were sorted, Poland beating Ukraine in 7th vs 8th, Lithuania besting Mexico in 5th vs 6th, it was ROC vs the Netherlands in the bronze medal race, with ROC comfortably beating the Dutch to the first track medal of this Games.

In the gold medal race, China were ahead after the final lap but Germany pulled it back for a very close finish, the Europeans couldn't do enough, however, and had to settle for silver as China took gold.

Germany set new world record in women's team pursuit qualifying

Tokyo Olympics

(Image credit: Getty)

Eight teams again lined up for the women's team pursuit qualifiers, France off and each squad aiming to set the quickest time over 4,000m, with the top four able to contest gold and silver.

Italy went faster than France, neither touching GB's world record of 4:10.236 before Germany smashed it with a blistering time of 4:07.307.

New Zealand, Australia and Canada then set slower times than France, with just world champions USA and Great Britain to come.

The Americans started fast before beginning to drift after the midway point, Chloe Dygert then gapping her team-mates as she tried to lift the pace, managing 4:10.118 to lift them into second with a time that would have beaten the old world record.

Great Britain were off to a great start, up on the new world record pace at the halfway stage, Katie Archibald looking super strong, before paying for their efforts, setting the second-fastest time of 4:09.022.

Result: women's team pursuit qualification

1 Germany 4:07.307 (WR)
2 Great Britain 4:09.022
3 USA 4:10.118
4 Italy 4:11.666
5 France 4:12.502
6 New Zealand 4:12.536
7 Australia 4:13.571
8 Canada 4:15.832

GB stay in gold contention as Aussies crash in men's team pursuit qualifying 

Tokyo Olympics

(Image credit: Getty)

Canada were the first team off, a scrappy effort that was replicated by Germany not long after, both nations setting times just outside the current Olympic record of 3:50.256 which was expected to be broken imminently.

Switzerland failed to trouble either time set so far, a second slower, before Filippo Ganna's Italy came through and obliterated the Olympic record with a time of 3:45.895. New Zealand then sidled into second with a time of 3:46.079.

World champions and world record holders Denmark were next up, starting fast and holding it, going faster than Italy to set a new Olympic record of 3:45.014, and worrying for their rivals it looked like they have more to give in the finals.

Australia were then up on Denmark's time over the first lap before disaster struck, Alexander Porter crashing as his handlebars broke and the last man in the quartet was sent tumbling to the ground. The Aussies signalled they wanted to go again, as the rules allow, with Porter picking himself back up and having his injuries assessed.

With the Australians gathered themselves, and the track was patched up, Team GB took to the start, Britain losing time to Denmark over the first half, the gap out to two seconds, before they started bringing it back momentarily, eventually crossing the line to take provisional fourth with a time of 3:47.507.

Before long Australia were back out, but clearly knocked by the crash in their first attempt, but couldn't muster a time better than GB's, settling for fifth with 3:48.448, meaning they can only compete for a maximum of a bronze medal.

Result: men's team pursuit qualification

1 Denmark 3:45.014 (OR)
2 Italy 3:45.895
3 New Zealand 3:46.079
4 Great Britain 3:47.507
5 Australia 3:48.448
6 Canada 3:50.455
7 Germany 3:50.830
8 Switzerland 3:51.514

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.