BikeNZ’s three junior world squad coaches are satisfied with where their charges are at, ten days out from the start of the UCI Juniors Track World Championships.
The full New Zealand squad was put through its paces on Saturday with a morning training session of race simulation followed by a night’s racing at Cycling Southland’s Junior Worlds Curtain-Raiser race night held at Invercargill’s Stadium Southland velodrome.
Coach Ross Machejefski says their aim was to simulate world championship race conditions as closely as possible this weekend.
“It was the first time we’ve been able to do that and it was great to get rid of some nerves, go through the process of preparation and race processes and get a few kinks ironed out,” said Machejefski.
The Women’s Team Sprinters of Paige Paterson and Victoria Steel were only a tenth of a second outside the national Under-19 record, stopping the clock at 35.929, while fellow team member Kate Dunlevey teamed with 2011 Junior Worlds medalists Steph Mckenzie, who is now in the Elite racing ranks, to go two tenths of a second faster. Who will partner Paterson in the Team Sprint at worlds is looking as one of the closest selection calls.
The Men’s Team Sprint selection is confirmed however. The threesome of Invercargill’s Tom Beadle and Jeremy Presbury and Auckland’s Zac Williams went even closer to setting a new national mark. Their 47.104 was just 0.058 slower than the current NZ record set by the Auckland trio of James Vercoe and former junior world champions Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell in 2009
The Women’s Team Pursuit combination of Alysha Keith, Alexandra’s Sophie Williamson and Racquel Sheath also went close to recording a new low mark with a 3:36.067 while Cassie Cameron, who rode the Team Pursuit in the morning session, backed up to narrowly miss lowering her own national record in the Individual Pursuit, set at March’s Age Group Track Nationals.
The Men’s Team Pursuit featuring Alexandra’s Liam Aitcheson, Canterbury’s Dylan Kennett and Tayla Harrison and Te Awamutu’s Hayden McCormick raced over the shortened distance of 3000 metres to record a solid 3:10.652
Machejefski says they won’t confirm final selections for the team events until late this week. “We’ve got some hard calls to make. Saturday showed we are on track against all squads and we’d hope for a few gains over the next 10 days.”
The squad also backed up to ride various bunch races throughout the night. Keith took out the Women’s Scratch race from team mates Cameron and Sheath while Kennett comfortably won the Men’s race over 8 kilometres from Aitcheson with Southland’s Josh Haggerty, fresh from being named in the New Zealand U19 squad to ride the Oceania championships, placing third.
Steel and Paterson claimed narrow sprint victories over Dunlevey and Mckenzie respectively and Beadle showed the keirin form which took him to the national title in March with a comfortable win in the final event of the packed programme. Presbury took second from Southland’s Karl Watson.
In other racing, Corbin Strong looked the part in winning the Under 13 Scratch and Derby events. Hunter Gough beat sister Madeleine home for second in the scratch race while Maddy and Emma McLeay took second and third in the Derby.
Aly Doherty took out the Under 15 Girls Handicap ahead of Emma Cumming and Sheree Horne before Cumming reversed the result in the scratch race taking the win in front of Doherty and Laura Molloy.
Bradley Knipe scored a popular win in the Under 15 Boys Handicap, holding off the fast finishing back-markers to take the victory with Mitchell Morris in second and Hamish Beadle third. Beadle would not be denied in the Points race however, featuring in all three sprints to finish on 11 points, ahead of Tom Sexton (8) and Brayden Stephens (6).
The Under 17 Super Sprint was won easily be Nick Kergozou ahead of Josh van den Arend and Anton O’Connell while the girls proved too quick for the male back-markers in the Handicap race, Holly Edmondston claiming victory over Laura Heywood and Libby Bayne.
Andrew Lienert rode a tactically sound race to take out the Senior Men’s Point-a-Lap from Sam Thomas and Brett Roulston. Lienert made it a double, winning the Senior Men’s Scratch ahead of Thomas and Grant Toomey.
The Open Men’s Elimination provided plenty of action with four of the visiting South African Junior Worlds riders in the field. The final sprint saw Otago’s Brad Evans take the title ahead of South Africa’s Dirkie Nell with Dillon Bennett third.
Nicola Stevens provided the biggest upset of the night with a blistering finish to take the Senior Women’s keirin ahead of Erin Criglington with Nic McAra taking third. Normal transmission resumed in the Senior Women’s Scratch race with Criglington taking the win from Stevens and McAra and the Mystery Preme going Criglington’s way from Stevens and Marie Muhl.
The night also featured a rematch from the Harrex Group Corporate Pursuit with ASA Stonewood Homes reversing the Division Two final result from last month, beating home Whytes Gravel Supplies by just over half a second in what was a great battle.
New Zealand continues it’s preparations with daily training sessions at Stadium Southland Velodrome, which is open to the public this week. The squad will continue full training over the next three days before tapering from Wednesday where training will be focused on getting the technical things right, including gate starts and racing lines.
The 2012 UCI Juniors Track World Championships start on Wednesday 22 August and run until Sunday 26 August with sessions daily at 12:30pm and 6:30pm. Tickets continue to sell strongly and are available from Stadium Southland or online at juniorworlds2012.com.