Date: Friday, 12 February 2016

VANTAGE ELITE AND U19 TRACK NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS – DAY 2 WRAP

New Zealand Cycling’s sprinting stocks are in heartening form ahead of next month’s UCI Track World Championships.

After record-breaking efforts in morning qualifying, the big guns came out to play with some brilliant performances in the individual sprints on the second day of the Vantage National Track Championships at the Avantidrome in Cambridge.

Southland’s Natasha Hansen was in imperious form throughout the competition, toppling Olivia Podmore 2-0 in the semifinal and dominating defending champion Stephanie Mckenzie in two straight rides in the final.

Earlier Hansen broke the New Zealand record in qualifying to add to the record set on her way to winning the 500m time trial on the opening night.

“That was really pleasing to win. The girls on the world scene are going extremely fast so I was chasing the clock as well as focussing on the win tonight,” said Hansen.

“So I’m happy to win the title and also really pleased with the times I’ve achieved tonight as well. I am definitely tracking in the right direction but there’s more to do.”

Commonwealth Games champion Sam Webster showed his speed and sense to hold off Eddie Dawkins 2-0 in the men’s final in a repeat of last year when he prevailed in the deciding ride. Earlier Webster was equally impressive to beating Matt Archibald in two straight rides in the semifinal.

Dawkins showed his raw speed to set a New Zealand Championship record in the flying 200m qualifying, timed at 9.901s, with Webster just 1/100ths of a second behind in a personal best on this sized track. Dawkins time was 15/100th of a second inside the previous championship record established by Webster two years ago.

The other major improver was specialist team sprint starter Ethan Mitchell who set a personal best 10.069s in qualifying, pushed Dawkins to two photo-finish rides in the semifinal but held off world championship time trial medallist Archibald for the bronze in two rides.

“After the personal disappointment of missing out on London, my goal was to win all four sprint titles before Rio. To achieve that goal I can finally get that monkey off my back,” Webster said.

“It is a huge, huge confidence boost for me. All the boys are in fantastic shape. We just need to do some finishing work. There’s more we need to do, but in three weeks time we will be in good contention form. From there it will be a matter of execution of course.”

Sprint coach Anthony Peden said he was pleased with the performances thus far from his senior riders.

“We are less than a month away from the world championships so of course we expect to be doing best times,” Peden said.

“The riders have really stood up with a bundle of best times in qualifying and some excellent performances in their match racing.

“I expect that from Eddie and Sam, but I’ve been impressed with the progression shown by Ethan Mitchell and Natasha Hansen who have worked very hard in the recent months to become truly world class in their sprint times.”

The programme began with a superb record to Wellington’s Kate Horan, the former Paralympics athletics medallist, in the C3 Flying 200m. Horan set the world record at 13.551s at last year’s championships and further reduced the world mark to 13.198s tonight as she prepares for Rio.

Waikato’s Raquel Sheath put her hand up for higher honours in winning the women’s 20km points race with 20 points ahead of the experienced trio of Lauren Ellis 16, Rushlee Buchanan and Jaime Nielsen, both 15.

World champion team pursuiter Alex Frame managed the best sprint to outlast Hayden Roulston to win the men’s scratch race, while Aaron Gate recovered from a crash to finish third.

In under-19 action, double junior world champion Campbell Stewart from Palmerston North proved his class to win the 300m individual pursuit in 3:22.528 over Jared Gray (Waikato BOP) while Nicole Shields came from behind on the final lap to edge Ellesse Andrews in the all Southland final in the women.

Outstanding sprint prospects ahead of July’s junior world championships, Emma Cumming and Bradly Knipe (both Southland) impressed in winning their respective keirin finals.

The third day features the keirin competition for elites, Para-Cycling individual pursuits, the men’s points and women’s scratch races.

Day 2, results:

Women sprint qualifying: Natasha Hansen (Southland) 10.893, 1 (NZ record); Stephanie McKenzie (Southland) 11.562, 2; Katie Schofield (Otago) 11.584, 3;Olivia Podmore (Canterbury) 11.715, 4; Gemma Payne (Canterbury) 12.031, 5; Jaymie King (Waikato BOP) 12.264, 6; Lisa Hunkin (Wellington) 12.271, 7; Hannah Bayard (Auckland) 12.308, 8. Quarterfinals: Hansen bt Bayard; McKenzie bt Hunkin; Schofield bt King; Podmore bt Payne. Semifinals: Hansen bt Podmore 2-0, McKenzie bt Schofield 2-1. Gold medal ride: Hansen bt McKenzie 2-0. Bronze medal rid: Podmore bt Schofield 2-1.

Men sprint qualifying: Eddie Dawkins (Southland) 9.901, 1 (NZ Championship record); Sam Webster (Auckland) 9.919, 2; Matt Archibald (Southland) 10.020, 3; Ethan Mitchell  (Auckland) 10.069, 4; Ben Stewart (Southland) 10.208, 5; Simon Van Velthooven (West Coast North Island) 10.238, 6; Zac Williams (Auckland) 10.249, 7; Jeremy Presbury (Southland) 10.329, 8; Jordan Castle (West Coast North Island) 10.357, 9; Callum Saunders (Waikato BOP) 10.467, 10; Sam Dakin (Auckland) 10.614, 11; Liam Brown (West Coast North Island) 10.827, 12; Fabian Wybrow (Southland) 10.827, 13; Daniel Rafferty (Canterbury) 10.851, 14; Lewis Eccles (Waikato BOP) 10.912, 15; Rhys Jones (Canterbury) 11.166; 16. Quarterfinals: Dawkins bt Castle; Webster bt Williams; Archibald bt Van Velthooven; Mitchell bt Stewart. Semifinals: Dawkins bt Mitchell 2-0, Webster bt Archibald 2-0. Gold medal ride: Webster bt Dawkins 2-0, Bronze medal ride: Mitchell bt Archibald 2-0.

Women 20km points race: Racquel Sheath (Waikato BOP) 20 points, 1; Lauren Ellis (Mid South Canterbury) 16, 2; Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato BOP) 15, 3.

Men’s 15km scratch race: Alex Frame (Canterbury) 1, Hayden Roulston (Mid South Canterbury) 2, Aaron Gate (Auckland) 3.

Under-19:

Women 2000m individual pursuit qualifying: Nicole Shields (Southland) 2.27.560, 1; Ellesse Andrews (Southland) 2.28.311, 2; Emily Shearman (West Coast North Island) 2.29.374, 3; Michaela Drummond (West Coast North Island) 2.29.840, 4. Gold medal ride: Shields 2.28.347, 1; Andrews 2.28.674, 2. Bronze medal ride: Shearman 2.31.019, 3; Drummond 2.32.113, 4.

Men 3000m individual pursuit qualifying: Campbell Stewart (West Coast North Island) 3.23.529, 1; Jared Grey (Waikato BOP) 3.24.162, 2; Connor Brown (Auckland) 3.24.872, 3; Josh Scott (Canterbury) 3.25.175, 4. Gold medal ride: Stewart 3.22.528, 1; Gray 3.24.711, 2. Bronze medal ride: Brown 3.32.538, 3; Scott 3.32.538, 4.

Women keirin final: Emma Cumming (Canterbury) 1; Olivia Reiber (Canterbury) 2; Sarah Mcleod (Canterbury) 3.

Men keirin final: Bradly Knipe (Canterbury) 1; Jackson Ogle (Canterbury) 2; Hamish Beadle (Southland) 3.

Details: www.cyclingnewzealand.nz

CAPTION: Natasha Hansen claims title at the Avantidrome in Cambridge today.

Photo courtesy Dianne Manson

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