Australia’s Olympic track cycling campaign has suffered another disappointment, with Leigh Howard and Kelland O’Brien failing to finish the madison.
While Matthew Glaetzer and Matthew Richardson progressed in the keirin on Saturday at the Izu Veldrome, the Australian madison team withdrew around the halfway mark of the 50km event.
Australia scored three early points, but gradually fell off the pace and lost a lap before Howard and O’Brien pulled out.
Reigning world champions Denmark won an absorbing race, with Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Morkov scoring 43 points to beat Great Britain by three.
France also scored 40 points, but the British took silver on a countback.
Australia won the madison at the 2000 and ’04 Olympics, but did not qualify for the event at the ’08 Games.
The men’s madison returned to the track program in Tokyo after being left out of the previous two Olympics.
Australia’s only track medal with one day of competition left has been bronze in the men’s team pursuit.
Still in the hunt
Earlier on Saturday, Glaetzer and Richardson made it through to Sunday’s quarter-finals in an eventful start to the men’s keirin.
Richardson’s round-one heat was re-run after a crash took out two riders on Saturday at the Izu Velodrome and Canadian Hugo Barrette went down in the re-start.
Richardson just avoided crashing into Barrette’s bike.
“It’s a horrible feeling that you get as the crash happens in front and then it quickly turns around and becomes the greatest feeling when you get through it unhurt,” Richardson said.
The Australian crossed the line third in the re-start, but was elevated to second because Dutch rider Matthijs Buchli was relegated and that put Richardson through to the quarters.
Glaetzer was caught out of position in his round-one heat and finished third, meaning he had to go through the repechage.
The Australian then won his repechage heat.
Glaetzer and Richardson combined with Nathan Hart to finished fourth last Tuesday in the team sprint.
‘Completely broke me’
Glaetzer, the top Australian sprint hope in the Olympic track program, pulled out of the match sprint on Wednesday because he was unwell.
“The team sprint completely broke me” Glaetzer said after his repechage win.
“I had a really sore back and struggled to breathe – I wasn’t feeling good at all.”
Glaetzer added it was a “big call” to sit out the sprint, also noting Saturday’s keirin rides were the first time he had raced in an individual event for two years.
He said it would now be a matter of how well he can recover before Sunday morning’s keirin quarter-finals, with the semis and the final to come.
The Dutch dominated the sprint and Harrie Lavreysen beat Jeffrey Hoogland two heats to one on Friday night in the gold medal ride-off.
But the event left the Dutch pair shattered and Hoogland pulled out of the keirin.
Lavreysen was in the same round-one keirin heat as Glaetzer and the Dutch ace finished fifth.
Lavreysen won his repechage heat, while Buchli was given another warning as he took third in a separate repechage and was eliminated from the competition.
The rest of the men’s keirin competition will be run on Sunday’s final day.