We have just witnessed one of the most insane days to ever unfold in Aussie cycling with Matthew Glaetzer winning gold in the men’s 1000m time trial.
The Aussie team was expected to be wiped out from the medals when they were inadvertently sabotaged by their own team in another farcical equipment blunder unfolding just hours before the event.
AusCycling officials announced its handlebars for the event were not safe at the eleventh hour—forcing the Aussie riders to use inferior, bulkier, slower bars at the Lee Valley VeloPark.
Aussie cycling legend Katey Bates said the decision to use heavier, less aerodynamic handlebars could cost the riders up to 1.5 seconds in the event that takes 60 seconds to complete.
Nobody could have predicted what came next.
Despite the last-minute equipment sabotage, Glaetzer produced one of the great rides to take gold in the final ride of the event, knocking Aussie teammate Tom Cornish to silver.
A fifth Commonwealth Games gold medal taken Glaetzer equal with Aussie cycling icon Anna Meares for career gold medals won.
Aussie Matthew Richardson, who won gold in the men’s sprint on Monday, was relegated to fourth spot after Nicholas Paul took bronze for Trinidad and Tobago.
Richardson would almost certainly have won the bronze if able to use the handlebars he was expecting to.
It’s why Bates was absolutely stunned when Glaetzer powered to the gold medal.
“I cannot believe my eyes. I cannot believe what I’m seeing here,” she said.
“That was absolutely staggering. This is becoming the velodrome where records are broken and dreams are made.”
Earlier, an AusCycling review into the handlebars was only completed at the last minute. The review found the bars could not handle the force that the riders put through them, particularly when exploding off the start line.
Aussie legend Scott McGrory said the decision was a “devastating blow” to the Aussie trio.
“It’s a major hindrance,” he told Channel 7.
“The aerodynamic bars are so much faster.
“It’s a devastating blow for the Australians.”
AusCycling executive general manager of performance Jesse Korf spoke to Channel 7 before the event and defended the late decision. He said the review was started earlier this year, but could not have been completed earlier because of testing issues with its suppliers and other officials.
Korf said in a statement released by AusCycling the decision was made after testing revealed the riders would generate significantly more power than the bars could handle.
“We acknowledge that this decision has created a degree of disappointment, but the riders and the broader team understand that safety is our top priority,” Korf said.
“We have made significant changes to procedures, team structure and process since the Tokyo Olympics and this decision is reflective of a new and thorough approach to long-term engineering excellence, competitive success, and athlete welfare.”
Bates said the decision would be a hammer blow to the Aussies, who have dedicated their lives for moments like this one.
“We’re talking 1 second to 1.5 seconds, it won’t just cost a gold medal, it will cost a medal,” she said.
“That’s devastating. When you look back on your career, these are the moments that define it, for good or for bad. I really feel for the athletes, to be honest.”
McGrory suggested there were other options that the Aussies could have used, including equipment readily available at the track, rather than going with such heavy handlebars.
Richardson was the first Aussie to hit the track and he left McGrory and Bates stunned when he shot straight to the top spot on the time sheets with a 1:00.152.
Tom Cornish then pushed into first place with a 1:00.036.
Glaetzer then took the gold when he smashed to 59,505.
Glaetzer was on Monday robbed of a bronze medal after being relegated in the third race of the bronze medal event following marginal contact with his opponent in the men’s sprint race.
The handlebar disaster in Birmingham comes after the Aussie equipment failed at the Tokyo Olympics.
Richardson was seen looking distressed after his ride and collapsed to the floor while appearing to suffer from cramping and other issues. Bates suggested he was about to vomit from the exhaustion and build up of lactic acid.
It was truly an unforgettable day in Australian cycling.