New Zealand’s burgeoning sprint cycling programme received a thumbs up after a record-breaking week at the Oceania Track Championships in Invercargill tonight.
Twenty-year-old Aucklander Sam Webster capped their performances with a breakthrough victory in the men’s sprint, beating off the challenge from Commonwealth Games kilo champion Scott Sunderland in two straight rides in the final at the ILT Velodrome.
BikeNZ riders have won all of the sprint events this week, usually the domain of the Australians, and set new national records in the sprint, team sprint and 1000m time trial in the process.
“Two years ago almost to the day we put in place some pretty lofty goals for this sprint programme. In terms of timing we are on track and in terms of performance we are way ahead of it,” said BikeNZ national sprint coach Justin Grace.
“Everyone has improved this week. We’ve won every event and we have broken records. I am not getting too carried away yet because we have to compare ourselves against the best in the world in competition.
“But I am pleased with how we are progressing. More than that our women’s programme is virtually tracking like the men did two years ago and we have other riders developing as well. It’s quite exciting.”
After keirin and time trial champion Simon Van Velthooven lowered the national record in sprint qualifying this morning to 10.217, Webster produced a world class 10.106 in the final ride to top qualifiers
He progressed unscathed through the elimination rounds and had too much speed for Sunderland in the finals.
“Happy does not go anywhere near far enough for that,” a delighted Webster said. “Ecstatic, over-the-moon, use any adjective you want. It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time. It’s great to be able to bring the whole package to race day.
“I’ve earned an automatic start at the world championships and it’s a big swag of Olympic points towards our sprint tally. It’s been a great week for us. We’ve won every sprint event which has done our Olympic points a real boost and our confidence heading to Cali World Cup tomorrow.”
Southland based sprinter Natasha Hansen produced the sizzle in the women’s sprint qualifying with a sensational 11.366 which lowered the national record as well as the allcomers record for the track.
Earlier world junior championship medallist Stephanie McKenzie (Auckland) had broken the old mark with a 11.616 effort.
The two kiwis progressed solidly through the elimination rounds but found the more experienced Australians more than a handful. McKenzie lost in a decided third ride against Cassandra Kell for third place, and Hansen lost to Stephanie Morton in two straight rides in the final, after she was relegated in the second ride.
There was more success for the kiwis with Timaru’s Shane Archbold showing his nous on the second day of the competition to win the six-discipline omnium.
The world champion silver medallist finished second in the individual pursuit behind a flying Westley Gough, and second to Mid South Canterbury's Andrew van der Hayden in the 15km scratch race.
Hawkes Bay’s Westley Gough produced a world class time of 4:19.720 to be fastest in the 4000m individual pursuit. Archbold (4:25.840) was second fastest, extending his lead in the competition ahead of Jason Allen (4:27.496).
van der Heyden took his chance to push clear with six laps to go in the scratch race. Archbold put on the after-burners two laps out and all-but chased down the Southlander but impressed with his second placing.
Gough again showed his talent with an excellent 1:03.044 effort to take out the final event, the 1000m time trial with Archbold achieving a personal best 1:03.207 for second.
That was enough for Archbold to claim the overall honours from Gough and Allen.
New Zealand interest in the women’s omnium faded when top rider Joanne Kiesanowski withdrew with illness after a disappointing individual pursuit in the morning, well below her best.
It meant the women’s contest became a two-horse race with triple world junior champion Amy Cure holding a lead over compatriot Ashlee Ankudinoff, a member of the world champion winning team pursuit last year.
Ankudinoff produced the goods today, winning all three events. She topped the 3000m individual pursuit in 3:38.649 from Cure, and sprinted clear with two laps remaining to claim the 10km scratch race with Cure second ahead of kiwi Sequoia Cooper.
With Cure leading by one point going into the 500m time trial, Ankudinoff produced a world class 35.893 to win from Cure and Canterbury junior Liz Steel. This brought the pair level on 11 points each, with Ankudinoff given the gold medal on a better accumulated total in the timed events.
Australian Katherine Bates was awarded the bronze on a similar countback from Southland’s Cooper.
The 2010 national road champion Rushlee Buchanan (Te Awamutu) showed her skills to hold out international teammates Lauren Ellis (Hinds) and Gemma Dudley (Levin) to win the women’s 20km points race. Buchanan finished on 21 points from Ellis 17 and Dudley 13 on countback from Australia’s Amy Cure.
The event had a popular and spectacular finish with local rider Tom Scully linking with Jason Allen to win the 40km Madison in a super-fast and exciting race. They finished on 23 points ahead of Australians Edward Bissaker and Scott Law 20.
Earlier Daniel Ellison from Nelson took out the final of the under-19 men’s keirin final, just holding out Australia’s Tirian McManus.
The New Zealand team to contest next weekend’s UCI World Cup in Cali will be named tomorrow morning.
Men’s sprint qualifying: Sam Webster (NZL) 10.106, 1 (NZ Record); Scott Sunderland (AUS) 10.164, 2; Andrew Taylor (AUS) 10.181, 3; Simon van Velthooven (NZL) 10.217, 4; Peter Lewis (AUS) 10.227, 5; Eddie Dawkins (NZL) 10.232, 6; Ethan Mitchell (NZL) 10.287, 7; Jason Niblett (AUS) 10.323, 8; Dan Ellis (AUS) 10.337, 9; Mitchell Bullen (AUS) 10.420, 10; James Glasspool (AUS) 10.494, 11; Matt Archibald (NZL) 10.500, 12.
Eighth final: Webster bt Archibald, Sunderland bt Glasspool, Bullen bt Taylor, Ellis bt Van Velthooven, Lewis bt Niblett, Dawkins bt Mitchell. Repechage: Archibald 1, Van Velthooven 2, Mitchell 3; Glasspool 1, Taylor 2, Niblett 3.
Quarterfinals: Webster bt Glasspool 2-0, Sunderland bt Archibald 2-0, Bullen bt Dawkins 2-1. Lewis bt Ellis 2-1. Semifinal: Webster bt Lewis 2-0, Sunderland bt Bullen 2-1. Third-fourth: Bullen bt Lewis 2-0. Final: Webster bt Sunderland 2-0.
Omnium, event 4, 4000m individual pursuit: Westley Gough (NZL) 4:19.720, 1; Shane Archbold (NZL)4:25.840,2; Jason Allen (NZL) 4:27.496, 3; Myron Simpson (NZL) 4:30.240, 4; Edward Bissaker (AUS) 4:32.912, 5; Cameron Karwowski (NZL) 4:33.445, 6.
Event 5, Scratch race, 15km: Andrew van der Heyden (Southland) 1, Archbold 2, Bissaker 3.
Event 6, 1000m time trial: Gough 1:03.044, 1; Archbold 1:03.207, 2; Karwowski 1:03.874, 3.
Final points: Archbold 13 points, 1; Gough 23, 2; Allen 25, 3.
Men’s 40km Madison: Tom Scully and Jason Allen 23 points, 1; Edward Bissaker and Scott Law 20, 2; Jackson Law and Peter Loft 15.
Under-19 Keirin final: Daniel Ellison (NZL) 1, Tirian McManus (AUS) 2, Chad Elliston (Auckland) 3.
Women Sprint qualifying: Natasha Hansen (NZL) 11.366, 1 (NZ Record); Stephanie Morton (AUS) 11.415, 2; Stephanie Mckenzie (NZL) 11.616, 3; Katie Schofield (NZL) 11.790, 4; Cassandra Kell (AUS) 11.897, 5; Rikki Belder (AUS) 12.203, 7; Maddison Law (AUS) 12.356, 11; Vanessa Quinn (NZL) 12.537, 8.
Quarterfinal: Hansen bt Quinn 2-0, Morton bt Law 2-0, Mckenzie bt Beldeer 2-0, Kell bt Schofield 2-0. Semifinal: Hansen bt Kell 2-0, Morton bt McKenzie 2-0. Third-fourth: Kell bt McKenzie 2-1. Final: Morton bt Hansen 2-0.
Omnium, event 4, 3000m individual pursuit: Ashlee Akuninoff (AUS) 3:38.649, 1; Amy Cure (AUS) 3:39.984, 2; Katherine Bates (AUS) 3:43.384, 3; Racquel Sheath (NZL) 3:48.847, 4; Sequoia Cooper (NZL) 3:48.847, 5; Joanne Kiesanowski (NZL) 3:49.182, 6.
Event 5, scratch race, 10km: Ankudinoff 1, Cure 2, Cooper 3.
Event 6, 500m time trial: Ankudinoff 35.893, 1; Cure 37.361, 2; Elizabeth Steel (NZL) 37.512, 3.
Final points: Ankudinoff 11, 1; Cure 11, 2; Bates 29, 3; Cooper 29, 4
Women’s 20km points race: Rushlee Buchanan (NZL) 21 points, 1; Lauren Ellis (NZL) 17, 2; Gemma Dudley 13, 3.