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Denmark clinch Olympic gold in chaotic men’s madison

Denmark kept their cool in a chaotic and crash-filled Olympic men’s madison on Saturday by beating Britain and France to win gold in the Izu Velodrome.

Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Morkov took control in the second half of a wild race in Shizuoka to finish three points clear while a late dash from Britain clinched silver, leaving France to settle for bronze.

Hansen and Morkov won silver in the men’s team pursuit on Wednesday, losing out to Italy in the final, but went one better in the madison with a dominant performance, despite numerous collisions happening around them.

It means Hansen is only the fourth Dane to win five Olympic medals and the first to win multiple golds on the track.

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 percent 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.

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