Southland sprinter Eddie Dawkins produced a stunning final lap to guide the New Zealand men’s team sprint to a well-earned win on the first session of the UCI Oceania Track Cycling Championships in Invercargill.
It led the way to an outstanding start to the championships and the international season with the New Zealand women’s and men’s team pursuit winning, while world championship silver medallist Simon van Velthooven set a new national record in winning the men’s 1000m time trial tonight at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome.
The Australian highlight came in the form of double Olympic gold medallist and 10-time world champion Anna Meares, who produced a world class performance to win the 500m time trial.
The Oceanias are one of five continental championships that now carry qualifying points for next year’s world championships and also ranking points for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
This morning the combination of Matt Archibald, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins clocked 43.765 to become the first New Zealand team to go under the 44 second barrier at home.
They had to work harder tonight in the final with the Australian trio of Olympians Dan Ellis, Shane Perkins and Matthew Glaetzer in front until Dawkins produced a powerful final lap to give the Kiwi team victory by just 4/100ths of a second, clocking 43.885.
“It was hard work but that New Zealand record in qualifying put us in high spirits and the home crowd always makes things easier.” Dawkins said.
“We have six of us fighting for three spots and tried out a new combination today to get that New Zealand record. You have got to be on your game to just to make the team.
“We have a group of guys willing to push eachother to be the best riders that they can be and not just looking after themselves which makes the whole team stronger.”
It was all new for the New Zealand women’s team pursuit, moving to 4000m and four riders to match the men, in a change of UCI regulations this year.
In their first outing the quartet of Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen, Rushlee Buchanan and newcomer Georgia Williams rode an outstanding 4:29.000 to beat off the strong challenge from Australia who were only 35/100ths of a second behind.
The New Zealand men showed their improvement from the recent Manchester World Cup to dip under the magical four minute barrier. The quartet of Dylan Kennett, Pieter Bulling, Marc Ryan and Aaron Gate clocked 3:59.385 to hold off the Australian combination by a second.
“The women’s first ride at 4kms with four riders and to go 4:29 was right up there internationally which was very pleasing,” New Zealand head coach Dayle Cheatley said.
“It was a totally new event for all of us to get our heads around. We have a benchmark for the women and exceeded that.
“I was really rapt for the men’s team with two young guys in that team to get into the sub-four minute club is something that not many teams in the world have achieved.
“We have had an intense programme in the last month and I think this is a good foundation to build on for the Mexico World Cup and on to the world championships.”
Meares, who only recently returned to the sport after several months out after winning gold at the London Olympics, was very impressive in clocking 33.500 in the 500m time trial, less than half a second outside her own world record.
She was in a class of her own, 1.5 seconds clear of New Zealand’s Katie Schofield who was second.
Meares was delighted with the performance in just her second competitive ride in her comeback.
“I was really pleased with that. It’s the first time I have ridden that since the worlds in 2012. Tonight I was focussing on the processes for a strong 500, and to ride 33.500 in not perhaps ideal conditions, I am really pleased with,” Meares said.
“It’s the first step towards to Rio. It’s a long road but definitely tonight was a step forward. I am hoping that with each race I will get a little bit better. I have a long time to work towards those goals. I was the first person to ride 33 seconds and I want to be the first woman to ride 32.”
Van Velthooven, in his first serious 100m time trial since his silver medal in last year’s world championship, produced a brilliant performance to clock 1:00.765 to claim the win and break his own national record by 0.2sec.
He had to chase down the time of the Commonwealth Games champion Scott Sunderland (AUS) of 1:01.270 to claim the major points, but was surprised with the time.
“It was unexpected after two team sprints today. I wanted to win but to get the record is a huge bonus,” van Velthooven said.
“While it’s not an Olympic event, it is a pet event of mine and there’s a world championships title to earn in it and even a world record.”
Australia took out the women’s team sprint with Olympians Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton made to work hard, winning by 0.1sec in 34.210 from New Zealand’s Schofield and Stephanie McKenzie.
The elite scratch race titles went to Waimate’s Dylan Kennett in a sprint with teammate Shane Archbold in the men, Buchanan won the sprint in the women while Taranaki’s Maxyna Cottam took out the under-19 women.
Day 1 Finals Results, Men:
Team Sprint: NZL1 (Matthew Archibald, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins) 43.885, 1; AUS1 (Dan Ellis, Shane Perkins, Matthew Glaetzer) 43.926, 2; Bronze: AUS2 (Nathan Hart, Mitchell Bullen, Andrew Taylor) 44.820, 3; NZL2 (Ethan Mitchell, Simon van Velthooven, Tom Beadle) 46.374, 4.
4000m Team Pursuit: NZL (Dylan Kennett, Pieter Bulling, Marc Ryan, Aaron Gate) 3:59.385, 1; AUS (Miles Scotson, Josh Harrison, Tirian McManus, Scott Sunderland) 4:03.769, 2.
1000m Time Trial: Simon van Velthooven (NZL) 1:00.765, 1 (NZ Record); Scott Sunderland (AUS) 1:01.270, 2; Luke Davison (AUS) 1:03.419, 3.
Scratch race 15km: Dylan Kennett (NZL) 1, Shane Archbold (NZL) 2, Tom Scully (Southland) 3.
Team Sprint: Gold: AUS (Kaarle McCulloch, Stephanie Morton) 34.210, 1; NZL (Katie Schofield, Stephanie McKenzie) 34.327, 2; Bronze: AUS 2 (Catherine Culvenor, Taylah Jennings) 34.279, 3; South Australia (Rikki Belder, Breanna Hargrave) 35.099, 4
4000m Team Pursuit: NZL (Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen, Rushlee Buchanan, Georgia Williams) 4:29.000, 1 (NZ Record); Australia (Annette Edmondson, Georgia Baker, Elissa Wundersitz, Kelsey Robson) 4:29.356, 2.
500m Time Trial: Anna Meares (AUS) 33.500, 1; Katie Schofield (NZL) 35.073, 2; Catherine Culvenor (AUS) 35.213, 3.
Scratch Race 10km: Rushlee Buchannan (NZL) 1, Elissa Wundersitz (AUS) 2, Jaime Nielsen (NZL) 3.
3000m Individual Pursuit: Gold medal: Rohan Wight (AUS) 3:25.834, 1; Matthew Jackson (AUS) 3:30.201, 2; Bronze: Liam McGregor (Otago) 3:31.859, 3; Alex Rendell (Western Australia) 3:31.862, 4.
Team Sprint: NZL1 (Quinn Karwowski, Michael Culling, Nick Kergozou) 47.522, 1; NZL2 (Sam Dobbs, Cameron Ford, Reon Sheath) 49.810, 2.
Flying Lap: Alexander Porter (AUS) 13.643, 1; Matthew Jackson (AUS) 13.847, 2; Cameron Ford (NZL) 14.203, 3.
Points Race 15km: Alex Rendell (AUS) 30 points, 1; Jackson 19, 2; Porter 17, 3.
Omnium, elimination: Jackson 1, Rendell 2, Matthew Holmes (AUS) 3.
Points after 3 events: Jackson 5 points, 1; Rendell 7, 2; Porter 9, 3.
Team Sprint: NZL1 (Olivia Podmore, Kate Stewart) 36.353, 1; NZL2 (Holly Edmondston, Nina Wollaston) 37.702, 2.
500m Time Trial: Olivia Podmore (NZL) 37.047, 1; Kate Stewart (NZL) 37.762, 2; Nina Wollaston (NZL) 38.497, 3.
Scratch Race 7.5km: Maxyna Cottam (NZL) 1, Bryony Botha (Auckland) 2, Laura Heywood (NZL) 3.