Double Olympian Westley Gough makes his return to international competition after selection for the BikeNZ track team for the opening UCI World Cup in Mexico next month and five Southlanders feature in the 16-strong team.
Gough, Southland’s Cameron Karwowski, Waikato’s Rushlee Buchanan and Otago’s Katie Schofield make their return to international track competition while Waikato’s Racquel Sheath will make her World Cup debut.
The 16-strong team will contest the Olympic events of team sprint, team pursuit, omnium, sprint and keirin over a shorter two and a half day programme from 7 to 9 November in Guadalajara.
Gough was part of the team pursuit campaign for both the Beijing and London Olympic programmes and won the bronze medal in the individual pursuit at the 2013 World Championships. He has been thwarted by injuries over the past 18 months, making a successful return to track racing at the recent UCI event at Cambridge and the Oceania Championships in Adelaide.
Karwowski was part of the junior world championship team sprint trio with Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell before moving his attentions to the road and now has reverted back to the endurance track programme.
The pair come into the squad with Commonwealth Games rider Dylan Kennett just returning after an extended break following Glasgow.
Sheath has been in improving form in recent months, and impressed at the Cambridge qualifying event as well as the Oceania Championships in second place in the women’s omnium.
Schofield has forced her way back into the squad for sprint on the back of a win in the time trial at the Oceania Championships, to form a new team sprint combination with national champion Stephanie McKenzie.
“It’s a strong squad which is a good combination of youth and experience, and is based on our proven combinations over the last 12 to 24 months,” said BikeNZ head track coach Dayle Cheatley.
“There is going to be strong competition for places in these teams in the coming 12 months and the challenge is there for this group to have the first chance to put their hands up as we work towards firstly the world championships next February and then towards our ultimate goal of the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The world cup has a revised format with an initial qualifying session on Friday afternoon for team sprint and team pursuit, semifinals and finals for team pursuit mixed with the men’s omnium and team sprint mixed with both individual sprint and keirin on a long second day, with the final day featuring omnium, sprint and keirin.
“The format will test out depth and also our focus over some long days. The second day has over nine hours of competition which will be a challenge for riders, coaches and our staff alike to ensure top performance throughout,” said Cheatley.
The team will leave for Mexico on 1 November.
The team is:
Men endurance: Aaron Gate (Auckland), Marc Ryan (Timaru), Westley Gough (Waipukurau), Cameron Karwowski (Invercargill), Pieter Bulling (Invercargill).
Men sprint: Eddie Dawkins (Invercargill), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Sam Webster (Auckland), Matthew Archibald (Invercargill).
Women endurance: Lauren Ellis (Hinds), Jaime Nielsen (Cambridge), Rushlee Buchannan (Te Awamutu), Racquel Sheath (Te Awamutu), Georgia Williams (Auckland).
Women sprint: Stephanie McKenzie (Invercargill), Katie Schofield (Dunedin).
CAPTION: Pieter Bulling (left) and Marc Ryan at the front of the team pursuit at last year’s world championships.
Photo courtesy Guy Swarbrick