Italy edge Denmark in thrilling men's team pursuit final to end 61-year wait for gold

Filippo Ganna leads the Italians to another world record time to shade the fancied Danes to the title

Italy ended a 61-year wait for Olympic gold in the men's team pursuit after breaking their own world record and beating the fancied Denmark team in a thrilling final at the Izu Velodrome on Wednesday.

The Italians shaded a neck-and-neck battle on the track, their blistering time of 3min 42.032secs just enough to hold off Denmark, who crossed the line in 3:42.198.

Led by Filippo Ganna, the Italy quartet roared with delight after they powered to victory, circling around the arena in front of an enthralled crowd of around 1,000 fans in Shizuoka.

The velodrome is one of the few venues at Tokyo 2020 allowing a limited number of spectators and they were treated to a brilliant final in what is the most prestigious event of the track cycling programme.

Ganna, who endured disappointment on the road last week in the time trial, was integral to the victory, regaining Italy's advantage with a superb final lap.

"We know Denmark are good over the first three kilometres and we have something special in the last kilometre," Ganna, 25, said. "The plan went well and now we have the gold medal around our necks."

Ganna, Simone Consonni, Francesco Lamon and Jonathan Milan sealed a record extending eighth Olympic gold medal in the men's team pursuit but it is their first gold in the event since Rome 1960.

This was also only Italy's second Olympic gold medal on the track in the past 21 years, with Elia Viviani winning the men's omnium at Rio 2016.

"We are so happy for this gold medal," Consonni said. "This is a big, big lift for the whole group. For five years we started working for this. We are so happy."

They had already broken the world record on Tuesday, lowering the mark Denmark had set en route to becoming world champions in Berlin last year.

Denmark were going for only their second men's team pursuit gold in history and went close, with their attempt also beating Italy's previous world record time.

"We're incredibly disappointed right now," said Danish rider Niklas Larsen. "We've been training towards and hoping for gold for such a long time. Right now we are super disappointed."

Updated: August 4th 2021, 11:34 AM