New Zealand Cycling has unearthed some exciting prospects for the future after a high successful campaign at the UCI Juniors Track Cycling World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan today.
The small eight-strong team won six medals, bettered only by the 10 medals won in Moscow in 2011 and at home in Invercargill in 2012 with significantly bigger teams.
It included three gold medals, equalling the most won at a junior world championship with the 2009 team in Moscow, with the New Zealand team finishing third overall in the ranking of nations behind Germany and Australia.
There were two close chances to extend the tally on the final day with Auckland’s Bryony Botha finishing fourth in the six-discipline women’s omnium while Canterbury’s Olivia Podmore finished sixth in the keirin final.
Head coach Ross Machejefski said it was the most successful overall of his five world championship camapaigns in which teams under his leadership have amassed 36 medals, compared with the 28 medals won in the preceding three decades.
“I think this has been the most successful so far with three world titles and six medals on the track from only eight riders,” said Machejefski. “The performances across the board from a small group have been outstanding.
“We have created a special team off the bike, and the performances on the bike have been a reflection of the culture and fun that the group has created off the track.”
Botha set personal bests in finishing eighth in the 500m time trial in 37.623s and fifth in the flying lap in 14.859s.
With the gold and silver positions out of reach, Botha needed to claim sprints off the world scratch race champion Martina Alzini (ITA) to grab the bronze position in the final points race. She managed two second placings to come within one point of the bronze medal position but in the end had to settle for fourth place.
“Fourth in a very good field was an excellent result for Bryony and you can’t ask for more than personal bests along the way.”
Podmore and Southland’s Emma Cumming had to work through the repechage process in the keirin competition. Cumming just missed out but Podmore won her repechage and then produced a strong second placing in the semifinal behind eventual champion Emma Hinze (GER).
However the talented Canterbury rider, chasing a third medal at the championships, found herself boxed in and unable to get a clear run, settling for sixth.
“Overall it was an excellent campaign for Olivia and Emma is also a talent for the future.”
The highlight was the two gold medals to Manawatu rider Campbell Stewart.
He joins Sarah Ulmer (1994 in Quito) and current team pursuit world champion Regan Gough (2014 in Korea) as double rainbow jersey winners at the junior world championships, one behind the three gold medals won by sprinter Sam Webster in Moscow in 2009.
“Campbell is going to be around for a long time at the top of our sport,” Machejefski said.
“All of this team you can see going forward into the elite programme in the next couple of years and push hard for world cup places in the future and on to the world championships and Olympics.”
Day 5 results:
Women omnium, day 2:
500m time trial: Danielle McKinnirey (AUS) 36.088, 1; Olivija Baleisyte (LTU) 36.832, 2; Martina Alzini (ITA) 37.078, 3. Also: Bryony Botha (NZL) 37.623, 8.
Flying Lap: Ema Kankovska (CZE) 14.777, 1; Marion Borras (FRA) 14.806, 2; McKinnirey 14.807, 3. Also: Botha 14.859, 5.
Points: Yumi Kajihara (JPN) 45, 1; Michaela Ebert (GER) 27, 2; Katherine Maine (CAN) 26, 3. Also: Botha 6, 8.
Final points: McKinnirey 189 points, 1; Daria Pikulik (POL0 179, 2; Alzini 169, 3. Also: Botha 164, 4.
Women Keirin, first round: Heat 2: Olivia Podmore (NZL) 3; Heat 3: Emma Cumming (NZL) 6. Repechage heat 2: Podmore 1; Heat 4: Cumming 2.
Semifinal, heat 2: Emma Hinze (GER) 1, Podmore 2, Julita Jagodzinska (POL) 3.
Final: Hinze 1, Courtney Field (AUS) 2, Sara Kankovska (CZE) 3. Also: Podmore 6.
CAPTION: The Cycling New Zealand team at the UCI Juniors World Championships with Campbell Stewart and the women’s team pursuit world champions in the front.