The broken stem that led to Alex Porter crashing heavily during the Tokyo Olympics.
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AusCycling Release Full Report Into Tokyo Olympic Track Stem Failure

Bastion, the manufacturer of the stem that broke during qualifying of the Men’s Team Pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics, has welcomed the release of AusCycling’s independent report into the failure.

The report found that two key factors contributed to the failure of the component. The first being inadequate design specifications supplied to Bastion, and second, a shortfall in policies and procedures in the lead-up to the use of the components during competition.

Investigations found that the Base Bar was subject to some 1.5 times the maximum static load specified by the design brief. This higher load was found to have been applied repeatedly during the race start procedure meaning the Base Bar – while designed to brief – was only 65 percent as strong as was needed in competition conditions. 

Similarly, testing protocols were reduced which contributed to any fatigue damage remaining undetected before the subsequent ultimate failure.

The Full AusCycling Statement

AUSCYCLING will introduce a range of measures in response to the findings of the independent report into the equipment failure that occurred in the qualifying round of the Men’s Team Pursuit at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The report, which was commissioned shortly after the incident, found that while a range of factors contributed to the failure, two were critical.

The first was an inadequate specification for custom-built handlebars, the second was the failure to conduct adequate fatigue testing.

The report found that a lack of adequate processes and policies meant that the issues weren’t detected and rectified before the team raced at the Games.

The author of the report, Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineer John Baker, made 14 recommendations covering processes, policies, quality control and more. He also made five key recommendations for the manufacturers of the base bar, Bastion Cycles.

AusCycling will adopt all recommendations, which will complement two major initiatives that have run parallel to the investigation.

The first was the creation of a High-Performance Review sub-committee which has a sweeping ambit including a focus on ensuring that: ‘’AusCycling has the most effective structure, people, resources and relationships to develop, lead and execute the High-Performance program needed to reach AusCycling’s goals,’’

The Committee – which was established prior to the Tokyo Games – has spent several months reviewing all elements of AusCycling’s High-Performance program and its work continues.

The second is the recent recruitment of an Executive General Manager – Performance, to replace the previous role of Performance Director. Jesse Korf was recently appointed to the role which has been designed to ensure that the Australian Cycling Team is structured and led in a way that meets AusCycling’s strategic aims for international success and athlete well-being.

AusCycling CEO Marne Fechner thanked the investigation team for their work and praised staff and external stakeholders for their co-operation and honesty.

‘’We commissioned the independent report in the full knowledge that it could produce uncomfortable findings,’’ Fechner said.

‘’We also said that we’d regard it as an opportunity to learn and get better. Today is a critical step toward that goal, and we are committed to ensuring that our elite programs benefit from world-class systems, processes and culture.

‘’We have work to do, but our commitment is to ensure that we strengthen those things that make us great and remedy those things that must change.’’

Alex Porter, who was riding the bike that failed, said the release of the report was an important step in clarifying what had happened.

‘’I acknowledge the work that has gone into the report and the many people who have contributed to a better understanding of what happened in Tokyo,’’ Porter said.

‘’I also appreciate AusCycling’s transparency and acknowledge their apology to all of us who rode in the Team Pursuit.

‘’While I’m glad that we now have greater clarity around what happened, I’m still absorbing the details of the report and will not be making any further comment.’’

Back To Bastion

Bastion said of the 19 recommendations, five (PG 31 of the report) were directly relevant to the company and its operations. Bastion has committed to enacting all of the recommendations as soon as possible and to continue to work closely with AusCylcling following the release of the report.

The report cited the professionalism and open nature in which Bastion approached the investigation, with the report’s author stating Bastion’s management “along with other people interviewed at Bastion Cycles displayed a high level of professional and technical competence. Their assistance was instrumental in validating the scientific causes of this failure.”

Bastion co-founder, Ben Schultz, said, “Operating at the limits of both human and technological performance will always result in opportunities to learn and grow. It is heartening to know that the quality of our products was not the primary cause of the failure, but we also have work to do to improve our capabilities and knowledge base,

“You don’t fail until you give up. We have always said that no matter what the results of the report were, we would treat this as an opportunity to learn and become stronger as people, and as an organisation. In team sport, we win together, lose together and critically, learn together. Bastion is committed to working with AusCycling and the team as we address each of the recommendations and work towards the future.” said Schultz.

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