One day after Great Britain dominated the women's madison, looking like the obvious winners early in the race, the men's madison wasn't decided until the end of the 50km, 200-lap race.
In the end, 2020 world champions Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Morkov of Denmark stayed out near the front long enough to win by only three points, scoring 43 to Great Britain and France's 40 each. Great Britain took silver by virtue of its better finish on the last lap.
Hansen took his fifth Olympic medal, adding this gold to his win in the omnium in 2012. He also took silver in the men's team pursuit earlier in these Games.
The United States crashed just past the halfway point. While teams are often able to continue after crashes, which are common in a chaotic event in which each team consists of a pair of riders taking turns by pushing or slinging each other on the track, Americans Gavin Hoover and Adrian Hegevary looked to be injured and could not continue. They had accumulated six points in the sprints that come up every 10 laps.
Teams can also get 20 points for lapping teams (or lose 20 points for being lapped), but no one was able to get to that point in the first half of the race. Around the halfway point, France went on the attack, trying to break away from the field and perhaps bring one or two other teams with them to pace each other around the track in pursuit of those 20 points. France did take a lead that it held through the next 50 laps, building up sprint points along with Denmark and Great Britain.
The last sprint is for 20 points rather than 10, and Great Britain flew away from the field to take those points and surpass France. Denmark didn't need any points but picked up two anyway.
Three-quarters of the way through the race, Denmark had a one-point lead over France, with Great Britain another six points back. Spain went on a breakaway, too late to move up to the top of standings but proving to be a spoiler by taking the maximum number of points at the next few sprints, denying the British a chance to move up. Denmark and Belgium managed to join Spain in the breakaway, as did Great Britain, a crucial development in the race for bronze.
After 18 of 20 sprints, Denmark moved into a more comfortable lead, with 39 points to France's 35, while Belgium (21) tried to catch Great Britain (27) for bronze. Belgium also pursued the outright race lead by lapping other teams, but they weren't quite close enough to do it. Still, in the 19th sprint, Belgium moved within four points of Great Britain, while Denmark led France by five.
The race is derived from long-distance formats in the heyday of track cycling in Madison Square Garden.
In cycling preliminaries, British rider Jason Kenny kept alive his quest for an eighth Olympic medal by advancing from the repechage in the keirin, in which he is the defending champion (RESULTS). Women's keirin gold medalist Shanne Braspennincx of the Netherlands advanced to the sprint quarterfinals (RESULTS).