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Madison gold just out of reach for British pair Walls and Hayter

Great Britain’s Matt Walls and Ethan Hayter took the silver in the men's Madison
Great Britain’s Matt Walls and Ethan Hayter took the silver in the men's Madison (Image credit: Getty Images)

Great Britain's new generation of track riders secured another Olympic Games medal in the men's Madison with 22-year-old Ethan Hayter and 23-year-old Matt Walls finishing second behind Denmark to take the silver medal.

Walls had hoped to win a second gold medal after dominating the Omnium and Hayter wanted to make up for a disappointing Team Pursuit but Michael Mørkøv and Lasse Norman Hansen proved to be stronger as they won gold with a total of 43 points and a tactically astute ride.

A silver medal was an excellent reward for both young British riders. Hayter had a bad crash at Gent-Wevelgem and broke his leg and injured a tendon. Walls tested positive for COVID-19 on his arrival at the Belgian Classics, costing him a major block of spring racing.

"Matt thoroughly deserved the two medals he's got," Hayter said.

"He's had coronavirus and a bit of a shit time. It's amazing, it's an Olympic medal. I've actually had a really good year. I'm not going to say I haven't."

The Great Britain pair started the 200 lap race aggressively and held the lead for a while after 50 laps, only to fade mid-race and then come back strong to chase down Belgium and win the final sprint to secure silver.

"I was cooked halfway in but we managed to get a bit of gas at the end to finish it off. It was literally everything we had," Walls admitted.

"It's been an incredible week. It's a shame we couldn't get a gold today but we're still happy coming away with the silver. It's still a good achievement."

Attacks by France and Belgium seemed set to take away a chance of a medal for Great Britain but Hayter and Walls came back strong in the final laps.

They ended Belgium's hopes of taking a lap and a medal and even went close to gaining a lap, which would have given them the gold medal. 

"It's a shame we didn't come away with gold, but yeah, we're still happy to get silver. The Danes were just so strong," Walls said.

"It came down to three points in the end," Hayter admitted. "I was a bit rusty actually, I could probably have made the three points in some of those sprints."

"Considering we've not ridden the Madison together in a long time we played it quite clever in the middle," Hayter explained.

"It was a bit of a gamble, we knew we were behind the Danes, the Belgians, the Germans. But if you get a nice few wheels, you can almost recover, at 60km and on the black line. Then suddenly there were 100 laps to go and I was suffering, and when one person starts to suffer in a Madison they almost make it harder for the other person. That's like losing a wheel or resting faster or something. Matt started to suffer, probably due to me.

"We both went through a bit of a rough patch. Then I saw 35 laps to go and I think I said to Matt: 'I'm actually starting to come around a bit here, we can go for these last few sprints and go for something.'

"We then just followed the Danes because they knew they'd win with the sprints at that stage. I waited, waited, waited and on the last straight, I fully committed, going past whoever sprinted with two laps to go. I knew then that if I fully committed there we'd get across the Belgians and win a medal if everything went right."

Both Hayter and Walls will soon return to professional road racing, with Hayter joining his Ineos Grenadiers team for the upcoming Tour of Norway, while Walls will ride with Bora-Hansgrohe.