New Zealand continues to grab from the pot of gold at the end of another rainbow jersey on the second day of the UCI Juniors Track Cycling World Championships in Switzerland today.
New Zealand won the gold medal in the men’s team pursuit, breaking the world record in the process, while the women secured silver in their 4000m team pursuit final. This follows the rainbow jerseys won in the women’s team sprint on the first day of competition at the UCI headquarters in Aigle at the foot of the Swiss Alps.
After qualifying fastest on the first day, the men’s squad of Campbell Stewart, Jared Gray, Tom Sexton, Connor Brown and Josh Scott were imperious today.
Brown came in for Scott in today’s line-up with New Zealand enjoying the rare sight of over-lapping perennial rivals Australia in the semifinal while Denmark upset last week’s European Championship winners Great Britain in the other semifinal.
The Danes started strongly in the final to hold a half second lead at 1000m with the kiwi combination drawing level at mid-race on the back of a blistering 58 second kilometre. Their speed remained high as they broke the backs of the Danish team to not only win comfortably by over three seconds, but their time of 4:01.409 took more than a second off the world record.
The New Zealand women’s team pursuit is a young combination, with just Manawatu’s Michaela Drummond back from last year’s world championship winning combination. She was joined by Emily Shearman, Kate Smith, Nicole Shields as they also got the better of Australia in their semifinal.
They were neck-and-neck with their rivals at 3000m but the Australians imploded under the pressure with the Kiwi quartet winning emphatically in 4:35.741.
New Zealand took up the fight against top qualifiers Italy in the final, with the pair locked together at 2000m. The Italians put on the gas to push clear to win by seven seconds in 4:31.157 to break the world record set by New Zealand when they won in Kazakhstan last year.
It was the sixth time in eight years that New Zealand women have earned a medal in the team pursuit at these championships and with the majority of this team also eligible to compete next year, there seems no reason why this success cannot continue.
The men’s team pursuit continues a rich heritage in this event that dates back to the bronze medal win in 1993 in a quartet that included Julian Dean, who went on to become a legend in the sport. It is just the second time that New Zealand has won the gold medal following the efforts at Vienna in 2005 by a team that included latter Olympic medallists Jesse Sergent, Sam Bewley and Westley Gough.
Earlier in the night, yesterday’s team sprint champions Ellesse Andrews and Emma Cumming finished fifth and sixth respectively in the 500m time trial, while Southland sprinter Bradly Knipe was 10th in the keirin, after missing out by one place on a spot in the final.
Tomorrow’s focus moves to individual events with Campbell Stewart beginning the defence of his world title in the six-discipline omnium, Cumming and Andrews in the sprint, along with the men’s 1000m time trial, men’s points race, women’s individual pursuit and scratch race.
The championships continue until Monday (NZ time).
Men 4000m Team Pursuit, Gold medal ride: New Zealand (Campbell Stewart, Jared Gray, Tom Sexton, Connor Brown) 4:01.409, 1 (World Record); Denmark 4:04.877, 2. Bronze medal ride: Great Britain 4:04.661, 3; Switzerland 4:07.956, 4. Semifinal: New Zealand overlapped Australia; Denmark 4:03.042, 1; Great Britain 4:03.863, 2.
Women 4000m Team Pursuit, Gold medal ride: Italy 4:31.157, 1; New Zealand (Michaela Drummond, Emily Shearman, Kate Smith, Nicole Shields) 4:38.732, 2. Bronze medal ride: France overlapped Canada. Semifinal: New Zealand 4:35.741, 1; Australia 4:46.554, 2; Italy 4:34.871, 1; Canada 4:37.218, 2.
Women 500m time trial: Pauline Grabosch (GER) 34.023, 1; Yufang Guo (CHN) 34.571, 2; Sookyun Kim (KOR) 34.710, 3. Also NZers: Ellesse Andrews 34.934, 5; Emma Cumming 35.006, 6.
CAPTIONS: The New Zealand team pursuit in action in the final, while the men’s team pursuit sport their rainbow jerseys after winning the men’s team pursuit final.
The images are free for editorial use only. Credit: Guy Swarbrick.