14/01/2011 - Invercargill cyclist Tom Scully received the perfect present on his 21st birthday today – selection in the New Zealand track team to contest the World Cup in Beijing later this month.
Bike NZ announced a reduced squad of just seven riders to contest the event and Scully admits he was stoked to receive the opportunity.
“Obviously things have been going well enough to get the nod,” he said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how things go since it will be my first time back on the world racing scene.”
Tonight’s ILT New Year Carnival marked Scully’s return to the track for the first time in 10 months, ticking off another milestone in his remarkable recovery since a serious crash in Ireland in May last year.
“It was awesome. Racing is the best training and the best way to judge how you’re going and how your lungs and legs are going to react to the pressure of racing,” he said.
“It was just going round and round but it was good to be back racing on the ILT Velodrome and to be going fast again.”
The phenomenal field of riders contesting the event, boosted by the presence of the elite Bike NZ contingent, delighted the crowd with some spectacular racing.
In the invitation men’s sprint heats, respective wins by Invercargill’s Eddie Dawkins and Palmerston North’s Simon van Velthooven set up a showdown of epic proportions – and the final clash didn’t disappoint.
Despite van Velthooven notching up a healthy advantage, Dawkins unleashed the guns on the home straight to snatch victory by a tyre width.
Riders donning the black skins were in dominant form throughout with Aaron Gate from Auckland narrowly beating Invercargill’s Hamish Tomlinson in the gruelling 8000m scratch, Sam Webster, of Auckland, winning the 515m sprint and Shane Archbold, of Timaru, claiming the elimination title.
Commonwealth Games silver medallist Jo Kiesanowski proved unbeatable in the women’s ranks, notching up five wins.
“It was my aim to win all the races – it’s just good to get that winning feeling and practice how to win,” she said.
The elite field attracted to the ILT New Year Carnival proved ideal preparation for the World Cup in Beijing where Kiesanowski, who rides professionally in the US, has her sights set on securing a medal.
“The racing was really good and I really had to work for it – a lot of the other girls were willing to attack. They are really talented so it’s good preparation to race against them.”
After winning the 2000m scratch, the Christchurch flyer secured victory in the elimination and keirin events. In the 4km points race, a scorching final lap enabled Kiesanowski to edge ahead of Wanganui’s Gemma Dudley by three points.
The wheel race heats produced some of the night’s most spectacular racing with riders vying for a spot in tomorrow night’s final.
Southland's Matt Archibald staged a gallant break in heat five to the rapturous delight of the crowd but was unfortunately swallowed by the star-stacked pack with van Velthooven snatching victory ahead of Ethan Mitchell.
Proving age is no barrier, Invercargill’s Makayla Smith blitzed the under-15 field, while Nick Ralston, of Tinwald, impressed in the under-17 event.
Kiesanowski predictably won the women’s heat, while Southland’s Ethan Thwaites reigned supreme in the men’s division two event.
Thwaites enjoyed a successful night on the boards, also winning the 1500m and 8-lap scratch events before adding the distance race to his title haul.
In division one, Michael White won the super sprint and 2000m scratch ahead of fellow Southlander Marcel Baird, while Tayla Harrison secured the distance and wheel race events.
Victoria Steel, of Christchurch, won the women’s division one 2000m race.
In the junior ranks, Invercargill’s Michael Culling won the under-17 2000m group handicap, while Joshua Haggerty narrowly beat Luke Wieblitz, of Christchurch, in the points race.
Christchurch’s Holly Edmonston won the under-17 girls’ scratch, ahead of Jenny Muhl, of Invercargill.
Top honours in the under-15 1000m handicap when to Southland’s Brayden Stephens, with Kate Ward, of Christchurch, taking out the girl’s equivalent.
Photos courtesy of Di Manson