Tokyo Olympics: NZ men's pursuit team shatter world record, but race for bronze medal

New Zealand will ride off for an Olympic bronze medal, despite shattering a world record - but finishing second to Italy in their men's team pursuit semi-final at the Izu Velodrome.

But the event was thrown into mayhem just moments later, when Rio 2016 gold medallists Great Britain and world champions Denmark collided in the second semi-final, with the final result held up, while officials sifted through the rubble. 

The Kiwis qualified third fastest through qualifying and drew second-placed Italy to race for a spot in Wednesday's gold-medal race. The two teams were evenly poised throughout the 4000m journey, with first one and then other edging to a narrow lead.

New Zealand led with a couple of laps remaining, but the Italians finished fast to win by 0.090s in a new world record time of 3m 42.307s - more than two seconds under the previous mark held by Denmark.

The NZ quartet of Aaron Gate, Campbell Stewart, Regan Gough and Jordan Kerby were also well under the old record, but were relegated to the ride-off for third place.

Meanwhile, the second semi-final ended in confusion, when the leading Dane crashed into the back of a tiring British rider, with both sliding off the track with only a couple of laps remaining.

Although four cyclists start the team pursuit, only three must finish, but both teams were already down to their final three when the collision occurred.

The fourth Briton, who had dropped off several laps earlier, was still circling the track and apparently crossed the finish-line to claim the race for his team - but an hour later, the final result was still pending.

Eventually, Denmark - who were on record pace - appealed that they had caught their opponents, automatically winning the race, and officials agreed.

New Zealand will race Australia for the bronze medal, while the Danes and Italians race for gold.