Denmark clinch men's madison Olympic gold after chaotic and crash-filled race

Hansen and Morkov edge Great Britain and France at the Izu Velodrome

Lasse Norman Hansen became the first Dane to win five Olympic medals and the first to win multiple golds on the track after combining with Michael Morkov to clinch the men's madison title on Saturday.

In a chaotic and crash-filled event in the Izu Velodrome, Denmark kept their cool to beat Britain and France after Hansen and Morkov took control in the second half of a wild race in Shizuoka to finish three points clear. A late dash from Britain saw Ethan Hayter and Matthew Walls clinch silver, leaving French pair Benjamin Thomas and Donavan Grondin to settle for bronze.

The madison, named after Madison Square Garden in New York where it first became popular, has been reintroduced to the men's Olympic programme in Japan and added for the first time in the women's.

A notoriously chaotic and unpredictable event, teams of two riders score points in sprints that occur every 20 laps while teammates are allowed to 'sling' each other in and out of the race, perhaps for rest or to put the faster rider in position for a sprint.

Fluid changeovers are crucial but with numerous bodies hustling for space at any one time, crashes are also common and there was the regular sound of bikes thudding to the floor, much to the gasps of an enthralled local crowd.

Although spectators are banned at Olympic events in Tokyo because of coronavirus measures, the velodrome in Shizuoka, located 145km southwest of the capital, allows fans at 50 per cent capacity, meaning around 1,000 people have been able to witness the track cycling this week.

France and Britain made the early moves, with the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark also claiming points from the early sprints and the leaderboard was still tight at the top at the halfway point.

The United States suffered the worst of a handful of crashes as Adrian Hegyvary and Gavin Hoover both hit the deck and had to withdraw while the French duo of Donavan Grondin and Benjamin Thomas made some headway, pulling half a lap ahead with 50 laps to go.

Denmark, though, were in hot pursuit and were in the lead with 30 laps left, three points ahead of France and 10 in front of Britain, with the Dutch and Belgians still fighting for a place on the podium.

Germany's Roger Kluge was the next rider to fall, clipping the wheel of Ethan Hayter, but Britain pushed to consolidate their position in the top three before sneaking ahead due to their stronger finish on the final lap.

Nobody, though, could catch the Danes, who were aided by a series of Spanish wins that denied the chasing pack crucial points. Hansen and Morkov held on.

Updated: August 7th 2021, 11:26 AM