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Track Cycling, Tokyo Olympics 2020 live: Laura Kenny and Britain to face USA in team pursuit ‘semi-final’ – live updates

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Britain’s women’s team pursuit squad – SWPIX.COM

06:02 am

Clancy announces retirement from Great Britain cycling team

We were not expecting ahead of a massive test against the Danes in the men’s team pursuit heats. Ed Clancy, the three-time Olympic gold medallist in the event and the most experienced rider in the squad, has withdrawn from the competition, which means his Olympic career is over.

This morning, British Cycling issued a statement saying Clancy had withdrawn due to an ongoing back and sciatica issue. “I’m absolutely gutted that my Olympic career has ended this way, but it would be unfair of me to try to carry on now I have aggravated my back injury,” Clancy said in the statement.

“Ultimately, I want the rest of the lads to build on the hard work we have done over the past year and a half and give them the best possible chance of making it onto the podium. I will be supporting them all the way.”

Cycling

“I’ve spent just over 20 years on the Great Britain Cycling Team, and I see it as my family. I have achieved more during my time than I ever could have dreamed of; it’s something I will remember for the rest of my life. It’s been a pleasure, to the extent that if I could go back in time, I would do it all over again. It’s a tough call because I’m enjoying it more now than I ever have done, but the difficult choice is usually the right one, and right now is the time to go. I want to thank everyone – family, friends, coaches, trade teams, sponsors, British Cycling, and everyone else who has supported me – my career success has been a significant team effort.

“In terms of what’s next, I still love riding bikes, and I plan on rounding out the season competing in UCI Track Champions League, as well as focusing on building up the Clancy Briggs Cycling Academy. I also really enjoy my ambassadorial role with Pro-Noctis, so I would like to do more with them, and I definitely would love to stay connected with British Cycling. I have plenty of options, but right now, I will be putting all my energy in doing what I can to support the Great Britain Cycling Team out here in Tokyo.”

Stephen Park, British Cycling performance director, added: “I admire Ed for taking the decision to retire from the sport which he still has a strong passion for. I know it was tough for him to withdraw from the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games because of his back issues. Still, his professionalism and honesty led him to make this decision. He can hold his head high, knowing he was part of the quartet who posted the fourth-fastest time in an event we know would be incredibly competitive.

“Through his domination in the team pursuit and by winning three consecutive Olympic gold medals, Ed has played a big part in driving the event forward, to the extent where we are witnessing the times we saw posted in Berlin and what we saw yesterday in qualifying.

“Away from the bike, Ed embodies the values of our team and has become a trusted mentor to his younger teammates. It’s been a pleasure to support Ed with his fantastic achievements, and on behalf of everyone on the Great Britain Cycling Team, I wish him the very best of luck for the future, and I hope he keeps some involvement with us. “In terms of the team pursuit events taking place today, Charlie Tanfield will join Ethan Hayter, Ethan Vernon, and Ollie Wood in the line-up.”

05:50 am

Morning

Hello and welcome to our live rolling blog from the second day of the Olympics track cycling at the Izu Velodrome in Shizuoka, Japan.

As you can see from the below schedule, it is another packed program of racing with the heats of the women’s team pursuit kicking off proceedings in earnest with the fours races determining who will, later on, contest for medals. As you will be aware, Team GB faces a tough test in the USA and, should they progress, then arguably a more challenging test yet should they end up going toe-to-toe with Germany, who set a world record (4min 7.307sec) in qualifying on Monday.

Once that is over, the men’s team sprint competition kicks off with their qualifying races before it is the turn of the men’s team pursuit squads to contest their heat races ahead of Wednesday’s finals. For those of a Team GB persuasion, the British quartet Ed Clancy, Ollie Wood, Ethan Hayter, and Ethan Vernon face world record holders Denmark at around 8.40 am on Tuesday morning for a place in the gold medal ride. It will be a massive surprise if Team GB were to win that race, but let’s see what happens out on the boards, shall we?

Ethan Hayter (left to right), Ethan Vernon, Ollie Wood, and Ed Clancy – SWPIX.COM

The men’s team sprint heats follow before the women’s team pursuit finals are contested, and then, finally, the session winds up with the team sprint finals. In theory, Jason Kenny, who will be riding with Ryan Owens and Jack Carlin, could become Britain’s most successful Olympian of all time later today if he were to leapfrog his old teammate Sir Chris Hoy and win a seventh gold medal in the team sprint. As I mentioned yesterday, though, this is the first international track cycling meeting since February 2020 – pre-lockdown – so it is almost impossible to predict much the form of the riders is broadly unknown, so I shall leave the speculation for others to speculate muse over.

Jason Kenny – AP

It should be a highly entertaining morning of racing, with our live blog firing back up and into action when the first race starts at 7.30 am.

04:51 am

Records tumbled on opening day

By Tom Cary, Senior Sports Correspondent in Shizuoka. It was no surprise to see the world record tumble in women’s team pursuit qualifying on the opening day of the track competition in Izu yesterday. World records tend to tumble on the first day of track cycling at an Olympics, with all that shiny new kit and pent-up energy. The only surprise was who broke it.

Team GB – GETTY IMAGES

Laura Kenny’s bid for a historic fifth Olympic gold medal today – the first of three attempts from the four-time Olympic champion this week as she seeks to reestablish herself as Britain’s most successful female Olympian – will face a stern examination this morning after Germany came from nowhere yesterday to annihilate Great Britain’s old world record. Usually, it is Great Britain doing the annihilating. In fact, at every round of every game since women’s team pursuit was added to the Olympics in 2012, Britain has lowered their own world record.

This time Germany got in there first. Their time of 4:07.307 obliterated the previous mark of 4:10.236 set by Great Britain in the final in Rio five years ago. And while the Great Britainquartet of Kenny, Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, and Josie Knight also managed to beat their old-time, clocking 4:09.022, that still left them 1.7sec off the pace and meant they could only qualify second quickest for this morning’s ‘first round’, or semi-final.

That means they have to face off against arch-rivals in the United States at 7.44 am this morning. Only if successful in that match-up will Kenny and co go on to face the winner of Germany versus Italy – almost certainly Germany on yesterday’s evidence – in the gold medal ride at around 9.30 am.

The United States will be no pushovers. Chloe Dygert, the individual pursuit world record holder, arrived at these Games off the back of minimal racing following a horrific accident at last year’s road world championships. And she did not look to be in great form in either the road race or the time trial. But she still dragged her team around the track yesterday, even riding away from them towards the finish.

If they can stay on her wheel, she could well carry them to a much faster time. Likewise, Great Britain, with Archibald looking by far their strongest rider and riding clear of Kenny and Barker in the final 500m after Knight had earlier dropped out. Either way, there was no denying the sense of shock at what Germany produced. “I think we were focusing on America and Great Britain, and Germany were [seen as] a threat, but that is an incredible time,” said Sir Chris Hoy on the BBC, who noted the time was even more impressive as it was set in qualifying.

“You’ve got to remember that [time] is with a single team on the track. The world record [in Rio] was broken by two teams on the track, and you get an aerodynamic benefit from two teams circulating simultaneously. It makes that performance even more impressive. The Germans stayed together really well. The Americans and GB were a little bit ragged towards the end. That gap [to Archibald] opened up, and GB probably lost half a second.”

Barker, though, sounded optimistic, saying she felt Germany was beatable. “I hope so,” she said. “They’ve not always been the most consistent, but then again, we haven’t really seen them for a year and a half, so maybe it’s something they’ve worked on. It will certainly be interesting. It was about 1.6 seconds [the gap], I think, so that’s very much in the realms of what is possible.”

However, great Britain had to get past the USA, with Barker conceding that Dygert was looking formidable again. “It did look that way. It would be interesting to see what their exchange of pace is. She’s clearly doing very well on a personal level anyway. Maybe we came out a bit too strong ourselves and paid for that slightly towards the back end, but lucky for us, we have our not-so-secret weapon in Katie to bring it all to the finish.”

Archibald, meanwhile, hinted that they might make changes between this morning’s two rounds, with Neah Evans also available for selection. “We brought a team of five, so that was always on the cards with an hour and a half gap tomorrow,” she said. “Backing up becomes really important.”