MARK Jamieson’s quick thinking and the doggedness of his 4000m pursuit teammates saved cycling defending champion Australias from Olympic Games elimination.
Jamieson’s front tyre punctured at the halfway mark, leaving Jack Bobridge, Bradley McGee and Luke Roberts to complete eight qualifying laps without one of the nation’s strongest riders.
Jamieson’s exit meant his teammates had to shoulder his share of the workload in an extreme endurance event – while making sure their time was good enough to make the top eight.
The Cyclones trio responded instinctively and courageously to clock a creditable 4min 02.041sec to finish third in qualifying, with competition rules demanding that three riders finish the course.
World champions Great Britain topped the session with a superb 3min 57.101sec, ahead of New Zealand (3min 59.277sec).
Los Angeles cycling gold medallist Mike Turtur praised the team, describing the effort as brilliant, and predicted a much faster time in the first round for Australia.
Australia could have lost up to five seconds from the mishap, given Jamieson’s form.
If Jamieson had attempted to remain on track, he inevitably would have slowed his team – and probably fractured their formation.
National coach Martin Barras said the well-drilled foursome reacted calmly to the puncture crisis.
“We were actually very pleased because they are extremely difficult circumstances for the guys,” Barras said. “You’ve got to make an instant decision in terms of how you’re manage that.
“(Jamieson) did that very well but we won’t know truly until they get back on the track for the next round.”
Australia are due to face the Netherlands in the first round, with the four winners advancing to the medal rounds.
The two quickest teams progress to the gold medal contest. The next two race for bronze.
The Netherlands clocked 4min 04.806.
“It could have been worse,” Barras said.
“If we ended up fourth or fifth, we could have had a very, very difficult match-up.
“This is a better match-up. It allows us to go out there and do what we plan to do without worrying about the other team too much.”
Dual Athens gold medallist Graeme Brown was left out of qualifying as endurance guru Ian McKenzie continued to analyse power output and sectionals.
Great Britain’s world record of 3min 56.322sec and Australia’s 2004 Olympic mark of 3min 56.610sec are both expected to fall in the next 24 hours.
1 Great Britain 3.57.101 (60.733 km/h)
2 New Zealand 3.59.277
3 Australia 4.02.041
4 Denmark 4.02.191
Michael Faerk Christensen;
Alex Nicki Rasmussen
5 France 4.03.679
6 Netherlands 4.04.806
7 Spain 4.06.509
Antonio Miguel Parra
8 Russia 4.06.518
9 Ukraine 4.07.883
10 Colombia 4.11.397
Juan Esteban Arango
Juan Pablo Forero