Team pursuiters suffer freak mechanical failure
19 February 2015
CYCLING: Australia won't defend the men's team pursuit title at the track cycling world championships after a freak accident in the opening qualifying round in Paris.
The best the Australian quartet can now hope for is bronze.
In a bizarre incident on Wednesday night (Thursday morning AEDT) only Jack Bobridge avoided trouble after Luke Davison's right crank broke off his bike on the very first bend.
A small axel bolt had failed.
Alex Edmondson then immediately suffered a rear puncture before Mitchell Mulhern crashed over the top of him.
Australia were allowed a restart after a break to repair the bikes but could only post the fifth fastest qualifying time.
That means the two-time defending champions will miss out racing for a spot in the gold-medal final on Thursday night (Friday morning AEDT).
National endurance coach Tim Decker says there's no doubt the crash had an impact on the team's time of 3 minutes 58.900 seconds - but he didn't want to make too many excuses.
"It's pretty gut-wrenching to see all that unfold," he told AAP, adding it was always going to be very hard for the riders to regroup for the restart.
"They ran off adrenaline (early), you could see that in the first three kilometres, because they were the fastest. But it's really hard to control and it just got to them in the end.
"Our aim now will be to try and collect that bronze medal and try and ride the fastest time of the championships to see if we can show that we possibly could have made it to that gold-medal ride."
Australia has won four of the past five men's team pursuit titles.
Nevertheless, Bobridge, back in the national track squad after spending the past few years focused on the road, was philosophical about the result.
The 4000m individual pursuit world-record holder told AAP it was better to have a mechanical now rather than during the Rio Olympics in August 2016.
"It's what happens, a bit of bad luck at the start, a bit of a mishap, but we have to be ready for these things," the 25-year-old said.
"It didn't go our way today but we're in France, not in Rio, which is our big objective.
Bobridge said the team would now focus on winning bronze with a fast time.
"We can just show that we can ride the fastest time - that's the only thing we can do."
New Zealand set the fastest qualifying time of 3:56.421 on Wednesday night and will ride against Switzerland for a place in the gold-medal final.
The winner will meet either Great Britain or Germany.