Australia faces the prospect of forfeiting its medals in the men’s 1000m time trial at the Commonwealth Games after yet another farcical blunder.
Just over an hour before the event at Lee Valley, VeloPark Cycling Australia announced that its handlebars were not safe for the event, forcing Australian riders to use lower quality and slower handlebars.
Australian cycling legend Kathy Bates said the decision to use a heavier and less aero bar could cost riders up to 1.5 seconds if it takes 60 seconds.
Matthew Glatzer, Matthew Richardson and Tom Cornish use drop bars instead after Cycling Australia completed a last-second review. The review showed that the handlebars could not withstand the force that riders applied to it, especially when pulling away from the starting line.
Australian legend Scott McGrory said the decision was “a devastating blow” to the Australian trio.
“This is a serious obstacle,” he told Channel 7.
“Aero rudders are much faster.
“This is a devastating blow for the Australians.”
AusCycling’s executive general manager of performance, Jesse Korf, spoke to Channel 7 ahead of the event and defended the belated decision. He said the review was launched earlier this year but could not be completed sooner due to testing issues with vendors and other officials.
Korf said in a statement released by AusCycling that the decision came after testing showed riders would generate significantly more power than the handlebars could handle.
“We acknowledge that this decision has caused some disappointment, but the riders and the whole team understand that safety is our top priority,” Korf said.
“We have made significant changes to procedures, team structure and processes since the Tokyo Olympics, and this decision reflects a new and thorough approach to long-term engineering excellence, competitive success and athlete wellbeing.”
Bates said the decision would be a hammer blow on Australians who have dedicated their lives to moments like this.
“We are talking from 1 second to 1.5 seconds, it will not just cost a gold medal, it will cost a medal,” she said.
“It’s devastating. When you look back on your career, it’s the moments that define it, good or bad. I really feel for the athletes, to be honest.”
McGrory suggested that the Australians could use other options, including equipment readily available on the track, instead of riding with such heavy handlebars.”
Richardson was the first Australian to hit the track and he left McGrory and Bates stunned as he shot straight for first place on the timesheet in 1:00.152.
Then Tom Cornish came out on top with a score of 1:00.036.
Richardson won gold for Australia in the men’s sprint on Monday, and Gletzer stripped of bronze medal after being relegated in the third bronze race due to minor contact with his opponent.
Birmingham rudder crash happened after Australian kit fails at Tokyo Olympics.
Originally published as ‘Crushing Blow’: A disaster for Australian cyclists at the Commonwealth Games