Argon 18 has confirmed that it wasn't its handlebars that were on the bike of Alex Porter when the Australian rider came crashing to the ground after his bars appeared to snap off during qualifying for the Team Pursuit at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
The incident sent Porter sliding across the boards, bringing Australia's first qualifying run to an end just over a minute in. They were able to make a second attempt where they came fifth with a time of 3:48.448, meaning the nation has a challenge ahead to even be in contention for bronze.
"Like all of you, we were devastated to see the Australian rider crash in the men’s team pursuit," Martin Faubert, VP Product, Argon 18 said in a statement. "We are greatly relieved that no one was seriously injured and applaud the team’s quick return to the track to complete the race. A full equipment review is in progress by the Australian Cycling Team and we will have more details shortly, but at this time we can confirm it was not an Argon 18 handlebar which experienced this failure."
The Australian track teams are riding the 2020 Electron Pro from the Canadian brand and for the Team Pursuit the bike is fitted with an integrated aero cockpit. Cycling Australia, now AusCycling, unveiled the bike in February of last year, launching it as a collaboration with Argon 18 and Zipp. A partnership with Bastion for the manufacture of its cockpits, a company that specialises in 3D printing titanium, was also previously announced.
"While Argon 18 has designed a handlebar for the bike, and provided that bar to the team, it was not our bar in use during the incident," Faubert said in the statement. "We unfortunately are unable to provide further detail on the manufacturer of the equipment nor why this particular bar was swapped out for the race.”
Porter, 25, was at the back when he came off so the rest of the riders on the team – Kelland O’Brien, Sam Welsford and Leigh Howard – stayed clear of the crash. The Australian squad were expected to be serious medal contenders, having taken gold in the Team Pursuit at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 with a World Record. The nation also won the team pursuit at the World Championship in 2019 and took silver in the Rio and London Olympics behind Great Britain.
In Monday's Olympic Team Pursuit qualifying Denmark dominated, setting the fastest time of 3:45.014, while the Italians rode to second with a time of 3:45.895. New Zealand was third with 3:46.079 and Great Britain qualified fourth with a time of 3:47.507. The men's Team Pursuit heats continue on Tuesday, with the medal finals on Wednesday.
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