Date: Monday, 25 February 2013
Posted by: Cycling Southland

Men's team Sprint Start - Photo by Guy Swarbrick-BikeNZIn past years, New Zealand's fledging team sprint combination used to turn up to competitions to gain international experience. Now they turn up to win.

Cycling Southland's Eddie Dawkins teamed with Auckland's Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster on Friday to claim this country's best ever result in the Men's Team Sprint at the UCI World track Cycling Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

The trio missed the world title by a miniscule margin (0.049 seconds) to claim silver behind Germany.

12 months ago I watched these three men stand on the podium in person in Melbourne when they won bronze at the 2012 World Championships. They did get a little helping hand from two faster teams who were relegated for various infringements, pushing the Kiwis into a ride for bronze, which they were good enough to win.

This year, they needed no assistance from other teams. They were just faster than them. After qualifying fastest they again lowered their personal best sea-level time in the final ride on Friday, but were beaten on the line by the fast-finishing Germans.

Team Sprint Medals - Photo by Guy Swarbrick-BikeNZThese boys finished fifth and sixth in 210 and 2011, prior to their medal-winning deeds over the last two years. With three world championships before the Rio Olympics and fellow Southlanders Matt Archibald and Tom Beadle adding depth to the squad, the question may well be not if they can win more medals, but how many and what colours will they be.

Yes, that brings expectation and its own pressure. But you only have to bear expectation when you are world class. And these boys are. It has been another hugely proud weekend, watching from afar.

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Early mornings watching internet video from Minsk will this week become long and late nights at the 2013 Age Group Track Championships at Stadium Southland Velodrome.

I wrote last week about the prospects for the five days of competition which begin on Tuesday night from 6:30pm. These championships may not have the big names of the Elites but, more often than not, they deliver more spectacular racing than their championship counterpart.

Large, even fields in the Under 15 and Under 17 ranks augers well for the sport's competitive future. The thing I love about the Age Groups is that you are either watching the champions of tomorrow, or the champions of yesterday. Juniors and Masters racing together is a great mix and with the addition of the Elite and Under 19 omniums, we have riders from eight different decades competing through to Saturday. Should be fun.

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I spent the weekend in central Otago for a mate's wedding (congrats Justin & Nicky) and reaquainted myself with the course that will host the Club Road Nationals in Queenstown in April. This is the biggest national championship event with north of 800 competitors predicted and Speargrass Flat/Malaghans Road will provide a stern test for all of them. 

But first, we've got a little overtime to put in at the Velodrome this week. Hope to see you there.

Nick Jeffrey is Chief Executive of Cycling Southland.

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