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Danish rider apologises for Olympics team pursuit crash with Tanfield

Denmarks Frederik Rodenberg Madsen reacts after crashing with Great Britains Charlie Tanfield during the first round heats of the mens track cycling team pursuit during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Denmark's Frederik Rodenberg Madsen reacts after crashing with Great Britain's Charlie Tanfield during the first round heats of the mens track cycling team pursuit at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The second day of track cycling at the Tokyo Olympics saw controversy in the men's Team Pursuit as Denmark's Frederik Rodenberg Madsen* ploughed into Great Britain's Charlie Tanfield as the world record holders caught him during the last lap. 

Rodenberg shouted at Tanfield immediately after the incident but later apologised for hitting the 24-year-old, saying: "I was so tired at that point I didn't know if he was 10 or 20 metres away from me."

Both teams had lost one rider in the second half of the 4000m first round race, where the winner would earn the right to go for the gold medal in the final, while the losing team would need a top-four time to move onto the bronze medal round. 

Tanfield lost touch inside the final kilometre and was a quarter lap behind his teammates as Rodenberg led the Danish trio into their bell lap. Disaster struck as Rodenberg, who appeared to have his head down, ran into Tanfield sending both riders sprawling to the track.

"I knew that we were getting closer to them, and half-lap before I hit Charlie I saw him and then suddenly he was much closer than I knew.

"I hope Charlie is okay. It's awful that this happened in an Olympic semi-final."

Only two riders remained in the race for both Denmark and Great Britain. UCI rules state that: "The race shall be over at the moment the third rider of each team crosses the finish line for the final time at full distance or, in the finals, at the point that one team (at least 3 riders riding together) catches the other team."

Tanfield got back up and continued riding, registering a time of 4:28 for Great Britain - well outside the bronze medal final times of Australia and New Zealand. However, the jury ruled that Denmark had overtaken Great Britain just before the crash, when making the catch, and so would move on to the gold medal final against Italy.

Rodenberg shouted in fury after his fall, but later said he was not yelling anything against Tanfield in his outburst.

"I just had so many emotions running through me and I just hope he is okay," Rodenberg said. 

"I was not saying things at Charlie. I was basically shouting because I was frustrated, not at Charlie but at the situation. I'm not at the Olympics to run into someone and crash. And I hope all the best for Charlie.

"I don't wanna be on the ground. I was just frustrated at the situation, not at him. Because he was doing his job and I was doing my job."

The UCI rules also state that "if one team catches the other, the catching team is declared winner and shall stop as soon as possible in order to allow the other team to finish the distance and thus record a time."

The officials are supposed to fire a pistol to signal the catch has been made, however, if the gun was fired, the sound was obscured by the bell of the final lap and Rodenberg said he had no idea he was catching Great Britain's third rider.

"Honestly I didn't know. I knew that there was someone half lap before I hit him. I knew that there was a GB guy. I didn't know if he was the third man or the fourth one, or first or second man. Suddenly he was just in front of me and I couldn't react.

"It's just a shame and again I hope Charlie is OK."

Rodenberg also responded to Great Britain's allegations that the Danish team used kinesiology tape on their shins to gain an aerodynamic advantage.

"We don't have anything to do with our equipment, clothes and the rest out of the sport. We just go on the bikes and we just ride our race. That's the only job that we have," Rodenberg said.

"We do what our team tells us to do. Ask a Formula 1 driver if he knows everything about the car - he does not. So we don't know anything about our equipment. Ask our team, not us."

*Corrects previous version referring to Rodenberg as Madsen. Danish riders use their first surname in the short form.

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news.