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.
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.
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.
“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.”