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NZ men's pursuit team to race for bronze as Italy break world record

New Zealand's men's team pursuit will compete for bronze after being pipped at the post in the first round by a world record-breaking Italian team.

The Italians led in the opening 1000m, but only by the narrowest of margins. Midway through the race it was literally neck-and-neck, the lead changing each lap.

But New Zealand had the endurance and pulled away in the final few laps, only for Italy to claw their way back in the final 500m to snatch the win by 0.09 seconds, and set a new world record of 3:42.307.

New Zealand will race for bronze tomorrow evening.

There was high drama in the second semi-final, as gold medal favourites Denmark sensationally crashed out in the most remarkable way.

The Danes, on track for a new world record, were about to lap Great Britain, when their leading rider went straight into the back of the final British rider, sending them flying to the floor. The Brit got back up and finished while the Danes did not.

The referees later awarded Denmark a spot in the gold medal race, ruling the race ended when the Danes caught up to the Brits.

Frederik Madsen of Team Denmark and Charlie Tanfield of Team Britain (133) get up after crashing during the track cycling men's team pursuit at the 2020 Summer Olympics. Source: Associated Press

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Denmark in team pursuit final despite horror crash with GB

The Kiwi men's sprint team finished fifth in qualifying, and were beaten by France in the first round.

The New Zealand team of Sam Dakin, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster could not keep up with the French, finishing in 42.978 seconds, 0.684 seconds behind.

They were able to defeat Poland in the race for seventh place later on in the evening.

The New Zealand women's team pursuit were narrowly defeated Australia in the first round, pushing them out of bronze medal contention.

The New Zealand women's team pursuit compete in the first round at the Tokyo Olympics. Source: Photosport

The Kiwis were chasing the race from the off but managed to overturn the deficit and take the lead halfway through the 4km race.

But they lost a rider, allowing Australia to get back into the race and regain the lead. They nearly lost it again as their chasing riders fell off the back of the leader, but hung on to win by 0.231 seconds in a time of 4:09.992. 

Despite the loss, the New Zealand team, featuring Holly Edmondston, Bryony Botha, Jaime Nielsen and Kirstie James, did break a national record with their time of 4:10.223.

They later faced France in the race for seventh and eighth, and despite leading for the majority of the race, lost the lead in the final lap, sealing their eighth place finish.

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