Britain’s gold-winning juggernaut was stopped in its tracks at the London Velodrome on Sunday when the hosts had to settle for a rare bronze.
Rival teams would be forgiven for hoping the trend, albeit brief, continues when Trinidadian sprinter Njisane Phillip takes on Beijing silver medalist Jason Kenny in the semi-finals of track’s most prestigious event.
With only one gold on offer on Sunday from the men’s inaugural Olympic omnium, most eyes in the 6,000-capacity crowd were firmly on Ed Clancy, but for only the second time in six finals, following the German women’s team sprint victory, the hosts were beaten after plucky Lasse Norman Hansen of Denmark shook off a crash in the fifth and penultimate event to go on and secure gold.
Clancy, who took his second Olympic title days ago when Britain defended their team pursuit crown in a world-record time, had to settle for bronze behind promising young Frenchman Bryan Coquard.
“I came here just to try for a medal, so to win is unreal,” Hansen said.
Competing in his first Olympics after a third place at the Melbourne world championships in April, Hansen will not forget his campaign in a hurry.
The tall 20-year-old from Faaborg crashed in the penultimate event of the scratch race when Clancy cut inside him on the track.
He got up gingerly to finally rejoin a peloton that was attacking and counterattacking its way over the 60 laps, and to the applause of a velodrome that seemed to have eyes only for Clancy, the Dane eventually fought his way back into contention and crucially closed his one-lap deficit.
“The crash gave me some extra power and an adrenaline kick. I still got hurt, it wasn’t an advantage at all, but I just got mad and I wanted it even more,” Hansen said. “The crowd was crazy, you can’t hear yourself think, but I just shut down my brain and let my legs do the talking.”
MONDAY, AUG. 6
Women’s shot put qualification
Lin Chia-ying finished 26th of 32 with a throw of 17.43m, a new national record, and was eliminated.
Chang Hao finished 24th of 38 in race 9 and 22nd of 38 in race 10. He finished 35th of 38 overall and was eliminated.
Although Clancy won the sixth and final event, the 1km time trial, Hansen stopped the clock at 1 minute, 2.314 seconds to finish third and secure overall victory.
Clancy had boosted his chances with second place in the 4km pursuit earlier in the day, but a 10th place finish in the penultimate event of the scratch left him playing catch-up.
Despite winning the 1km time trial, the performances of Hansen and Frenchman Coquard, who was fourth, left Clancy with the bronze.
Not even the advice of world road race champion Mark Cavendish could help.
“In the omnium, I knew it was touch and go,” Clancy said. “I want to say thanks to the team, at one point I even had the great Mark Cavendish on the phone offering me some advice.”
British hopes of more gold now lie with Kenny, who faces the surprise package of the men’s sprint tournament in a man who, so far, has won the respect of his rivals and the largely partisan crowd.
“I want to be recognized by the Australians and British fans,” Phillip said. “Trinidad and Tobago is such a small island and I feel like a VIP. Getting this love from this crowd at the Olympics is just a wonderful feeling.”
The other big semi is Gregory Bauge versus Shane Perkins.
Frenchman Bauge cannot wait to fight off the Australian and get his teeth into Kenny in the final.
“It would be amazing to get into the final with Jason Kenny. I think it would be logical,” said the Frenchman, who has never been beaten by his English rival. “The sprint, it’s not just about speed. It’s man to man, and the mental side plays a huge role. Kenny will feel the support of the crowd, but in the two or three times we’ve met in recent years, he’s never beaten me.”