IZU, Japan – Officials at Fuji International Speedway have apologized to the Dutch team following World Test Champion Anna van der Bregenn was pulled from her bike by security during the Olympic replay of Wednesday’s race against the clock.
Apparently the goalkeeper did not know that Van der Bregen was a competitive athlete. She ended up falling in the accident – unhurt and will still be competing – and a video clip of the Dutch riders flanked an official’s car at the track.
“Everything stopped due to an error by the organizer. And in the commotion with the guards, Anna was threatened and overturned,” said Kiyosuke Taki, coach of Japanese rider Eri Yonamin, in a tweet on Twitter.
In another tweet, Takei wrote: “It was such a big mess today, I was so unhappy. Organizer was very disrespectful to the riders. I know everyone is working firm in their place. It was a dreadful mess. I haven’t seen these days.”
Tokyo officials have been criticized for their work at many cycling venues.
On Monday, previous BMX world champion Nick Keeman collided at packed speed with the race host who was touring the track during a practice run. Both fell into a pile and Kimmann, one of the favorites to triumph a medal when the competition takes place later this week, said he injured his knee in the impact.
“This is what happened today,” Keiman wrote on social media in a post that included a video. “Hit an official who wants to cross the second straight line. I hope the official is OK. My knees are in the afternoon, but I’ll do my best to get ready for Thursday!”
Organizers struggled with the cycling program from the moment Tokyo was awarded the Olympic Games.
First, there were plans to build a temporary track in the Japanese capital, allowing the bulk of the cycling program to take place in the heart of the Olympics. But the plan was scrapped in an effort to curb spending. The program, which began next week for two hours southwest of Tokyo, has been moved to a track located in the secluded city of Izu.
This is where mountain bike racing has been contested for the former couple of days and just south of Fuji International Speedway, where road races and time trials were scheduled to be competed. The lengthy distance of all these facilities from Tokyo has caused headaches for team officials and the media, who must only use Olympic-approved transportation during the 14-day period of flexible quarantine but were unaware that bus service would be severely limited each day.
As a result, only two reporters from the usually vast group of British media that typically succeed a robust cycling program were competent to cover Tom Bidcock who won his country’s first mountain bike gold medal.
In the women’s road race, the Olympic organizers’ longstanding policy of including teams from using the race’s radios has caused the Dutch team to be unaware of the situation on the road and may cost them a gold medal.
Winner Anna Kissenhofer of Austria was still ahead of the peloton following an beforetime breakup, but van der Bregen and her colleagues thought all riders were back in the main group. So when her teammate Annemiek van Vleuten, like van der Breggen, was also going to run a time trial, broke off the finish line and crossed on her own, I thought she won the race.
“The only information we got was from the car or from a motorbike, it was going by every 10 minutes or so,” van der Bregen said. “I was told that Anna Plechta was up fore, so when I caught up with her, I thought we were ahead. The worst part about it was that because [lack of] Information.”