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Australia investigates snapped handlebar that caused Olympic crash

Governing body looks to pinpoint cause of snapped bar that led to Alex Porter smashing into the boards of the velodrome at 65km/h

AusCycling, the national body that governs cycling in Australia, has appointed independent experts to investigate the handlebar failure that occurred during the qualifying round of the men’s team pursuit at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, causing rider Alex Porter to crash heavily at speed.

While riding in man 4 position – at the back of the line – Porter’s handlebar apparently snapped, leading to an ugly-looking fall onto the track. Porter was quickly back on his feet but clearly angered by the incident. 

Although riding Argon 18 bikes, the team’s bars came from Bastion Cycles.



The investigation will be conducted by Toni Cumpston, who AusCycling describes as “an experienced high-performance executive with a record of success across multiple sports and international sporting systems”, and mechanical and aeronautical engineer John Baker. 

AusCycling says that Baker has “a particular focus and expertise in fault-finding and investigations, including several aircraft crash investigations”.

He is said to have a long and successful history in identifying the causes and effects of equipment failures. 

“The investigation will be multi-faceted, and both Cumpston and Baker will be provided with the access and resources required to ensure all contributing factors are unearthed and examined,” says AusCycling.

The aim of the investigation is “to find out exactly what happened and what to do to prevent it happening again”.

The findings and recommendations are expected to be made public before the end of the year.Alex Porter injuries (Eurosport)

Not surprisingly, Argon 18 was quick to distance itself from the equipment failure. 

“While Argon 18 has designed a handlebar for the bike, and provided that bar to the team, it was not our bar in use during this incident,” said Martin Faubert, the brand’s VP Product.

Bastion Cycles immediately said that it was working with the Australian Olympic Team to understand the cause of the failure.

The incident was classed as a ‘mishap’ under UCI regulations and the quartet was allowed to restart. The Australian team eventually secured the bronze medal although Alex Porter didn’t ride beyond the qualifying round.

Mat has been in cycling media since 1996, on titles including BikeRadar, Total Bike, Total Mountain Bike, What Mountain Bike and Mountain Biking UK, and he has been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. Mat has been technical editor for over a decade, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer. Now over 50, he's riding road and gravel bikes most days for fun and fitness rather than training for competitions.

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