Cycling Southland's cyclist Liam Aitcheson earned his second medal after a brilliant performance at the UCI Juniors Track World Championships in Scotland today.
Aitcheson, who won a silver medal as part of the team pursuit on the opening day, took the silver medal in an exciting 25km men’s points race at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow.
The 18 year old, who also won a silver medal in last year’s world championships in New Zealand, produced a superb final sprint which saw him move from fifth place overall to second by a single point.
After a careful start, Aitcheson played an aggressive role, pushing a breakaway group of seven to put a lap on the field. From there Frenchman Benjamin Thomas collected the sprint points to take a big lead but Aitcheson saved his legs for a final flourish, passing a four riders in the last lap to get up for third.
There was an agonising wait, with officials relegating one of the key medal contenders, before confirming Aitcheson in second place in the final sprint which edged him up over five other riders into the silver medal position.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking at the end waiting. Once the rider had been relegated that changed things,” Aitcheson said.
“I am pretty stoked at that. Of course I came here to win it and would have liked to but the Frenchman was too good today. Second in the world is pretty good.
“My plan was to sit back a bit at the start. After we got the lap I then wanted to save my legs for that final 20 laps. I was a bit further back than I wanted at the bell but I could see the gaps and I gave it everything. It was close.”
Aitcheson did well to make it to the final after he crashed during the qualifying race in the morning. He recovered to re-enter the race and duly put a lap on the field to ensure his qualification to the final.
He has a day’s break before he returns with Regan Gough in the Madison on the final day.
Meanwhile Gough (Central Hawkes Bay) lies provisionally in sixth place after the first day of the six-discipline Omnium. He was seventh in the flying lap, 13th in the points race and fifth in the elimination.
There were strong top-10 efforts for Alex Hooper and Josh Haggerty in the kilometre time trial, on a sluggish Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome.
Hooper (Ashburton), celebrating his 18th birthday today, set an excellent time of 1:05.163 to finish in seventh place from the 31 riders competing.
Haggerty (Invercargill), who had won two silver medals on the first two days of the championship, clocked 1:05.651 to finish in ninth place.
Tomorrow features Gough in the second day of the omnium while Quinn Karwowski (Blenheim), Callum Saunders (Blenheim) and Jeremy Presbury (Invercargill) in the sprint.
Results, day 3:
Points Race 25km: Benjamin Thomas (FRA) 40, 1; Liam Aitcheson (NZL) 28, 2; Ivo Oliveira (POR) 27, 3.
Men Kilometre Time Trial: Maximilian Dornback (GER) 1:03.129, 1; Aleksandr Dubchenko (RUS) 1:03.227, Zach Shaw (AUS) 1:03.288, 3. Also: Alex Hooper (NZL) 1:05.163, 7; Josh Haggerty (NZL) 1:05.651, 9.
Omnium, Flying Lap: Marc Jurczyk (GER) 13.524, 1; Jack Edwards (AUS) 13.536, 2; Eric Johnstone (Can) 13.676, 3. Also: Regan Gough (NZL) 13.854, 7.
Points: Casper Pedersen (DEN) 1, Edwards 2, Riccardo Minali (ITA) 3. Also: Gough 13.
Elimination: Jurczyk 1, Edwards 2, Lindsay de Vylder (BEL) 3. Also: Gough 5.