• AFP-JIJI

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Italy broke their own world record to win Olympic gold in the men’s team pursuit on Wednesday, beating world champions Denmark in a thrilling final at the Izu Velodrome.

The Italians won a neck-and-neck battle on the track, their blistering time of 3 minutes, 42.032 seconds just enough to hold off Denmark, who crossed the line in 3:42.198.

Led by the 25-year-old Filippo Ganna, Italy’s quartet roared with delight after powering to victory, circling around the arena in front of an enthralled crowd of around 1,000 fans in Shizuoka.

Located 145 km outside Tokyo, the velodrome is one of the few venues at Tokyo 2020 to allow a limited number of spectators and they were treated to a brilliant final in what is the most prestigious event of the track cycling program.

Ganna, Simone Consonni, Francesco Lamon and Jonathan Milan sealed the gold medal for Italy.

They had already broken the world record on Tuesday, lowering the mark Denmark set en route to becoming world champions in Berlin last year.

Denmark were going for only their second men’s team pursuit gold and went close, with their time also beating Italy’s previous world record time.

Australia claimed a bronze medal to go with their silvers from 2012 and 2016 after they beat New Zealand, whose hopes were ended when Aaron Gate crashed out.

New Zealand were leading at the halfway point but Gate went sliding across the boards after nicking Regan Gough’s back wheel, allowing Australia to seal a comfortable victory.

Reigning Olympic champions Great Britain were left racing against Switzerland for seventh place after their dramatic crash against Denmark on Tuesday had scuppered their time.

Britain won the race, beating the Swiss with a new national record of 3:45.636.

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