Sport Australia collects bronze in men’s team pursuit
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Australia collects bronze in men’s team pursuit

Kelland O'Brien, Sam Welsford, Leigh Howard and Lucas Plapp on their way to bronze in the men's team pursuit finals. Photo: Getty
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Australia has won the men’s team pursuit bronze medal after a New Zealand rider crashed in their ride-off.

New Zealand was 0.2 second ahead when its rear rider touched wheels and went down, ruining its chances on Wednesday in Olympic track cycling.

Australia soon caught the third remaining opponent, who had dropped off the New Zealand paceline because of the crash.

It is some consolation for Australia after Alex Porter face-planted in qualifying, ruining its hopes of a gold medal.

Luke Plapp took his place on Tuesday and again in the bronze medal ride, combining with Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford and Kelland O’Brien.

Filippo Ganna rode superbly as Italy stormed back to beat Denmark in the gold medal ride and again broke the record, clocking three minutes 42.032 seconds to win by just 0.168sec.

There was more badly needed good news for the Australian track team on Wednesday, with Kaarle McCulloch reaching the keirin quarter-finals.

After finishing fourth in her opening heat, McCulloch took second in a repechage behind Hong Kong star Lee Wai Sze.

That means McCulloch will go into a quarter-final on Thursday night ahead of the medal round.

Until McCulloch’s progression and then the team pursuit bronze, it had been a dim afternoon for the Australians.

Top sprint hope Matthew Glaetzer pulled out of the event, with the team saying he was unwell after combining with Matthew Richardson and Nathan Hart for a frustrating fourth on Tuesday in the team sprint.

Richardson replaced Glaetzer, joining Hart in the match sprint, and they were 22nd and 23rd-fastest out of the 24 qualifiers.

The Australians lost their round-one sprints and were knocked out in the repechage.

After the disaster of Rio, the team pursuit bronze is a welcome result, but otherwise it is proving another testing Olympics for the Australian track cycling team.

The fourth for the men’s team sprint and the fifth for the women’s team pursuiters on Tuesday repeated their Rio results.

Glaetzer is yet to win a medal at three Olympics, with four fourth placings.

Anna Meares’ 2012 sprint triumph has been the only Olympics gold medal for the track cycling team since it dominated the 2004 Athens Games, winning five.

Glaetzer was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in late 2019 and missed the February 2020 world championships because of a torn calf.

He is the top Australian men’s sprinter, winning the 2018 world title in the match sprint and the 2012 team sprint crown.

-AAP