Date: Tuesday, 31 January 2017

There will be plenty of rivalry at the New Zealand Track Cycling championships in Invercargill.

The World Champion and Olympic silver medal winning men's team sprint combination will be lining up against each other in the sprint competition, which is likely to provide plenty of interest at the SIT Velodrome.

Southland star Eddie Dawkins, along with Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster are building towards a World Cup event in Los Angeles and April's UCI World Championships in Hong Kong, where they hope to defend the rainbow jerseys they won in London last year.

Dawkins will have home advantage at the Invercargill-based velodrome as the trio along with the country's other top riders attempt to not only earn bragging rights, but also claim a title for their province at the event.

"It's always the toughest competition, racing against your teammates, because they know you inside and out, they normally get the jump on you," Dawkins said.

"It normally comes down to who has got it on the day, everyone's got the ability to be the national champ, it is just whose legs turn up on the day and who rides the smartest."

The 27-year-old Dawkins will ride on his home track for the first time since the Oceania Track Cycling Championships in 2015, as he attempts to improve on his second placing to Webster from last year's individual sprint.

"It will be good, I haven't raced down here in a while, I was down at the track and the track felt really fast," he said.

"I am hoping that it is me feeling fast and not the track, hopefully not everyone is going really quick."

According to Dawkins, the nationals are a "completely different beast" compared with competing at top level international events.

"It's way different racing, it is a lot more complex, it is not just how fast you can go and there is a lot more that goes into it," he said.

"With the nationals, for us there are two or three guys that can go under 10 seconds for 200 metres, at the world champs there are 30 guys that can, so all the races are a lot faster from the beginning."

"At the nationals it is more tactical, there's more jostling and cat and mouse in the races before the sprint starts."

"At the world championships level it is pretty much guns blazing the whole time."

The former James Hargest College student has been training hard in Cambridge, but brings some excellent results from the Oceania Track Cycling Championships in his last big track event.

He claimed the keirin and the Kiwi trio won the men's team sprint.  

Dawkins also finished second behind Webster in the men's sprint.

The third wheel rider is set to join Fabian Wybrow and rising star Bradly Knipe in Southland colours at the event, while there is also the possibility of the Olympic silver medallist trio riding an exhibition race. 

At a glance

What: 2017 Elite and under-19 Track National Championships 

Where: SIT Velodrome, Invercargill

When: Thursday to Sunday 

Article courtesy Stuff

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