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Cycling at the 1956 Melbourne Summer Games:

Men's Team Pursuit, 4,000 metres

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Host City: Melbourne, Australia
Venue(s): Olympic Park Velodrome, Melbourne, Victoria
Date Started: December 3, 1956
Date Finished: December 4, 1956

Gold: ITA Italy
Silver: FRA France
Bronze: GBR Great Britain

Summary

There was little to choose between the co-favorites, Italy and France. They had won the last seven gold medals going back to 1920, France winning in 1948-52, and Italy having won the other five. Sixteen teams rode the qualifying round with eight advancing to the quarter-finals. In the semi-finals, Italy defeated Great Britain and France defeated South Africa, as the favorites advanced to the final. Italy won a close final in an Olympic record 4:37.4. They were led by Leandro Faggin. Faggin had already won three World Championship medals, including the amateur sprint title in 1954. As a professional, he would win the World Championships in the individual pursuit in 1963, 1965, and 1966, and also won gold in Melbourne in the kilometer. The British Olympic Report noted that he coached the team from the saddle and did all the pulls on the crucial laps. The other leading member of the Italian team was Valentino Gasparella who would become World Champion in the sprint in 1958-59. He only joined the team after the first round, replacing Virginio Pizzali, who had injured himself after a fall. Great Britain won the bronze medal, their sixth consecutive bronze in team pursuit, a streak that would end in 1960 when they did not make the quarter-finals. Britain’s best known rider was Tom Simpson, later a top professional who was World Champion on the road in 1965, and during his career won the Ronde de Vlaanderen, Paris-Bordeaux, Milan-San Remo, the Giro di Lombardia, and Paris-Nice. But Simpson is best known as the man who forced sports administrators into instituting doping controls. On the 13th stage of the 1967 Tour de France, while ascending Mont Ventoux, he collapsed and died. He was later found to be doped to the gills with amphetamines and alcohol. The furor over this finding helped convince the IOC to begin drug testing at the 1968 Olympics.

Final Standings

Rank Team NOC Medal
1 Italy ITA Gold
2 France FRA Silver
3 Great Britain GBR Bronze
4 South Africa RSA
5T Belgium BEL
5T Czechoslovakia TCH
5T New Zealand NZL
5T Soviet Union URS
1 h1 r1/4 Colombia COL
1 h5 r1/4 Austria AUT
2 h1 r1/4 Pakistan PAK
2 h3 r1/4 Germany GER
2 h4 r1/4 Uruguay URU
2 h5 r1/4 Venezuela VEN
2 h6 r1/4 Australia AUS
2 h8 r1/4 United States USA