With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics underway, there have been plenty of great events and triumphs for teams around the world. There have also been a fair number of controversies related to cycling happening over the course of the event as a whole. From crashes to equipment failures, there is a lot to cover, and I’ll continue to update this article with the big stuff as and when it happens.
Equipment Failure Causes Crash
While crashes aren’t uncommon at the Olympics, they’re certainly never pleasant. Alex Porter of the Australian cycling team had an unfortunate equipment malfunction in which the handlebars came off his bike in the middle of the team pursuit, where he was cycling with the rest of his team. Porter received various injuries from his crash, such as burns and major skin damage to areas of exposed skin such as his face, arms and legs, but was mostly fine to race with his team again after he had been cleared of any concussion risks by on-site medics. Thankfully, there is protocol in place that allowed the Australian team to try again since it was an equipment malfunction deemed to be no fault of the rider, however, the Australian team sadly didn’t qualify on their second shot, and missed out on their chance to race for gold.
The team, and Alex Porter especially, were understandably frustrated at this. The blame certainly does at least partially lie in that of the equipment malfunction, which left one of their riders in less than peak condition and forced them to restart after they had already used plenty of energy in the previous attempt. The Australian cycling team has promised a full investigation will be taking place to find the exact source of the malfunction, so further drama may still come from this incident.
Leg Tape Sparks Arguments
The Denmark men’s cycling team set the leading time in the pursuit event, however almost immediately drama was sparked by pictures that surfaced of the entire team outfitted with leg tape just under their knees going down to their socks. It may seem like a small thing for people to get worked up about, but there are fair sides to both arguments with this one. The tape does give a slight aerodynamic advantage in that position, and there are rules in place that non-essential materials are not allowed in the event, however, the tape is slim enough in profile that it doesn’t technically qualify as a material that should be forbidden. It is an interesting situation, as it could certainly be seen as the team taking advantage of a loophole to gain an advantage, following the word of the rules but not the spirit, but for now there has been no official statement on the matter other than a warning issued to the team. Only time will tell whether or not this is seen as something the team could be disqualified over.
For the time being, the argument is very heated, and hasn't been helped by a Danish rider accidentally crashing into a GB one from behind, causing more problems on the track and ultimately leading to the Denmark team advancing to the final. This has understandably caused a significant amount of outrage, with some calling the act "blatant cheating" and demanding Denmark be disqualified. At the end of the day, it is impossible to tell. These types of crashes do happen all the time when a cyclist is trying to catch the slipstream of another, it is just unfortunate these events lined up in such a way to spark such an argument.
Overcoming A Punctured Tyre
On a more positive note, Georgia Taylor-Brown triumphed despite an equipment malfunction in the triathlon event. Just as she was finishing up the cycling section and was about to move onto the running, tragedy struck as Taylor-Brown lost her place thanks to a punctured tyre. The GB representative was forced to finish the cycling with a flat, handling her bike extremely well given the poor weather conditions and tyre problems. Despite this significant setback, Taylor-Brown was able to catch up and more than made up for her lost time when it came to the running segment, eventually placing second and taking home silver for Great Britain.
Such a display was very impressive, and Taylor-Brown has proven her dedication in general by overcoming many obstacles like this. Shortly before the Olympics she suffered an injury that left her on crutches, but made an impressive recovery and participated regardless. This kind of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity has proven Taylor-Brown to be an athlete to keep an eye on.