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Tokyo Olympics: Australian Alexander Porter’s bike suffers catastrophic breakage

Australian Men's Team Pursuit rider did not suffer significant injuries in the high-speed crash and was able to restart with his squad on a new bike.

As the 2019 world champions in the men’s Team Pursuit, Australia was a gold-medal favorite before the start of qualifying.

Their hopes of gold faded when Alex Porter’s stem snapped before the quartet was 1km into the 4km event. The catastrophic failure of the integrated stem sent Porter to the track at a speed approaching 70kph.

“Obviously there was a mechanical failure, we’re not too sure what exactly happened, there was obviously something wrong with the bars,” said AusCycling high-performance director Simon Jones.

Also read: Wild-looking Olympic track bikes

Team Australia is riding aboard the Argon 18 Electron Pro pursuit bikes with a custom one-piece integrated aero cockpit.

The bikes are $18,000 for the frame, pursuit, and sprint cockpits, standard and narrow forks, and Zipp wheelset.

According to a 2019 announcement, the bike was developed for Team Australia as a joint effort between Argon 18, Cycling Australia, Zipp, the University of Adelaide, and Monash University.

Porter was in fourth position in the team pursuit when his cockpit broke.
Porter was in fourth position in the team pursuit when his cockpit broke. Photo: Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images
Porter slid to a halt on his chin, nose, back, and shoulder. Photo: Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images
Alex Porter's cockpit gave way less than 1000m into the 4000m men's team pursuit qualification round.
Alex Porter’s cockpit gave way less than 1000m into the 4000m men’s team pursuit qualification round. Photo: Valery SharifulinTASS via Getty Images

The Australian Olympic organization news reported that Team Australia was granted a re-start and they rode the fifth-fastest time of 3:48.44. Denmark set an Olympic record time of 3:45.01 during the qualification ride

“The doc checked him over and we don’t have any immediate concerns. He slid on his face. He’s not quite as pretty as he was before, he took a bit of skin off, took a bit of skin off his right arm, but he was lucky,” said Jones. “Fortunately on the track, you slide.”

Porter had taken a pull and was riding in fourth position at the rear of the paceline when the stem on his bike snapped, sending Porter onto the track. He recovered and restarted with his squad a short time later.

“But to be honest, when you land on your face at 65kph and you’ve got half-an-hour to do that again, it’s absolutely amazing,” Jones said.

Alex Porter of Australia crashed in the qualifying round of the Men's Team Pursuit when the stem on his bike broke.
Alex Porter of Australia crashed in the qualifying round of the Men’s Team Pursuit when the stem on his bike broke. Photo: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP via Getty Images
Porter was on his feet quickly after his crash while officials stopped his three teammates from completing the qualification round. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
Alex Porter recovering his bike after his crash. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
Porter sustained abrasions to his face when he crashed from the back of the Australian men's Team Pursuit squad.
Porter sustained abrasions to his face when he crashed from the back of the Australian men’s Team Pursuit squad. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

The riders on the green and gold squad rode to silver medals in the previous two Olympiads, and are the 2019 world champions in the event. The Australian men’s Team Pursuit will have an opportunity to race for a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

Porter’s bike was developed for Team Australia as the defending world champions in the Men’s Team Pursuit event. Photo: GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images
Alex Porter’s Argon 18 Electron Pro with a broken stem. Photo: GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images
The Argon 18 Electron Pro developed for Team Australia has a custom one-piece cockpit.
Team Australia will ride the Argon 18 Electron Pro with a custom one-piece cockpit in the bronze medal round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Men’s Team Pursuit. Photo: Courtesy Argon 18
The Argon 18 Electron Pro developed for Team Australia has a custom one-piece cockpit. Photo: Courtesy Argon 18

“The lads were on really good form, so we still have the bronze tomorrow, that’s the key thing,” Jones said.

“That’s all there is to say. We did a pretty good time considering we crashed at a quick pace, the lads were at a good pace. We’ve still the bronze tomorrow, that’s the key thing. The lads will come back, recover, settle down and we’ll come back and go as quick as we can go.”