New Zealand’s campaign at the UCI Juniors Track Cycling World Championships began with a golden hue in Switzerland today.
The southern pair of Emma Cumming and Ellesse Andrews has won the women’s team sprint world title, in the first medal event of the championships which are being staged at the UCI headquarters in Aigle at the foot of the Swiss Alps.
Cumming from Invercargill and Andrews from Wanaka – both now based at Cycling New Zealand’s training centre in Cambridge – took out the final with an impressive ride over top qualifiers Italy.
The pair was second fastest in qualifying in 28.304s for the two laps of the smaller 200m track, to be only 2/100ths of a second behind the Italians.
They were outstanding in the final with a 16.428s opening lap from the standing start led by Andrews which gained a slight lead, with Cumming storming home in 11.578s for the win by nearly 0.4 seconds.
China edged Korea for the bronze medal.
It is the first female sprint gold medal won by a New Zealander at the championships, and fitting reward for Cumming who won the silver medal with Rio-bound Olympian Olivia Podmore last year.
New Zealand’s burgeoning female team sprint talents have been on the rise with a silver medal by Stephanie McKenzie and Henrietta Mitchell in Italy in 2010, a bronze to McKenzie and Paige Paterson at Moscow the following year, a silver to Paterson and Liz Steel at Invercargill in 2012 and the silver to Cumming and Podmore last year.
There’s a trans-Tasman battle looming in both the male and female team pursuit tomorrow.
The men’s combination of Campbell Stewart, Jared Gray, Tom Sexton and Josh Scott were the top qualifiers in the 4000m team pursuit with a superb 4:03.704 to finish two seconds faster than Denmark with a further second to Great Britain and Australia.
The Kiwi quartet made a conservative start but stormed through the remaining kilometres in 59 seconds, 60 seconds and 59 seconds in an impressive ride.
They take on Australia in the first round tomorrow with the winner to contest for the gold medal ride later in the evening.
The New Zealand female quartet of Michaela Drummond, Emily Shearman, Kate Smith and Nicole Shields were second fastest in their qualifying effort.
They clocked 4:33.440s for the 4000m which was only 0.3s behind top qualifier Italy with Australia third more than three seconds behind and Canada fourth fastest.
Like the boys, they will take on Australia in the first round, with the winner progressing to the final.
The championships continue until Monday (NZ time).
Women Team Sprint final: New Zealand 28.006, 1; Italy 28.357, 2. Bronze ride: China 28.312, 3; Korea 28.527, 4.
Women 4000m Team Pursuit qualifying: Italy 4:33.129, 1; New Zealand 4:33.440, 2; Australia 4:36.762, 3; Canada 4:38.298, 4.
Men 4000m Team Pursuit qualifying: New Zealand 4:03.704, 1; Denmark 4:05.774, 2; Great Britain 4:06.468, 3; Australia 4:07.071, 4.
CAPTIONS: Emma Cumming (left) and Ellesse Andrews on the victory podium.
Photo courtesy Guy Swarbrick.