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Handlebars mishap derails Australia’s men’s team pursuit

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A freak mechanical mishap and crash has ended the medal ambitions of Australia’s men’s team pursuit cycling squad at the Izu Velodrome on Monday night.

Alexander Porter was riding at the rear of the four-man team as Australia set off to finish fastest in the qualifying round of the 4000-metre event on the first night of track cycling.

But less than a lap after setting the fastest time at the first stage (125 metres), Porter’s handlebars separated from the bike frame and sent him sprawling to the wooden floor.

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Thankfully, the 25-year-old Porter walked from the crash scene and was immediately monitored by the Australian team doctor and medical staff for concussion and grazing to his face, arm and leg.

The injured Alexander Porter walks off the velodrome for medical treatment on Monday night.

He suffered a torn skinsuit and was furious as he walked back to the Australian team pits.

The Australians were given a restart after the women’s sprint.

Courageously, Porter returned to the track about 30 minutes later – after the women’s sprint – in a bid to better Denmark’s Olympic record qualifying time, but the shell-shocked team finished out of the medal places in fifth.

The Australian team won the silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and won the 2019 world title.

Earlier, Australia qualified second-last in the women’s team pursuit as Germany broke the world record in team pursuit qualifying and also qualified fastest in the women’s team sprint.

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Germany clocked four minutes 7.307 seconds in the team pursuit to beat the 4:10.236 that Great Britain clocked to win the gold medal at the Rio Olympics.

The British were on track to better the Germans’ mark at 3000m, but faded to finish second-fastest in 4:09.022.

Concerned teammates Kelland O’Brien, Sam Welsford and Leigh Howard (obscured) are shocked after Porter’s fall. Photo: Getty

The Australian combination of Georgia Baker, Annette Edmondson, Ashlee Ankudinoff and Alexandra Manly rode 4:13:571 and are out of contention for the gold and silver medals.

They will face sixth-fastest team New Zealand in the first round and could progress to the bronze medal ride-off later on Tuesday, but the Australians will need a big lift in performance.

Australia has never won an Olympic medal in the women’s team pursuit.

Stephanie Morton’s retirement means Australia did not enter the women’s team sprint, which will be the only event to be decided on Monday night.

Germany will meet China in the women’s team sprint gold medal ride-off.

-with AAP

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