Date: Thursday, 09 March 2017

Southland father and daughter Brendan and Rhylee Akeroyd are aiming to repeat their success at this year's NZ age-group track cycling national championships in Cambridge.

Father, Brendan, won two gold medals at the 2016 nationals in Invercargill, picking up the men's category 1 points race, along with claiming the 3km individual pursuit in a NZ record in the masters 2 category.

He has a hectic schedule planned for the event starting on Wednesday March 15.

Akeroyd will be racing in the 750m time trial, the 3km individual pursuit, keirin, scratch race and team sprint, with repeated success in the points race and pursuit an aim as he moves up into the 45-49 year-old category.

"It is the one advantage of getting older, as you go up, the opportunities are there to do well," he said.

He is not taking the competition lightly, despite last year's successful campaign, with some former top level riders also competing, providing an element of the unknown.

His rivals include former New Zealand road racing champion Dean Peterkin, along with former NZ track cycling representative Russell Ownsworth.

"The competition is pretty tough as well, there are some really talented riders out there, ex overseas pros, Commonwealth and Olympic Games riders who rode overseas in the 1990s, you come against a lot of those guys at track nationals," he said.

"With it being based in Cambridge, there are a lot of riders from the North Island that you don't always know what they have been up to and they show up on the day."

"You can have some really tough competition that you weren't expecting and that is what the whole masters scene is like, you don't always have a gauge on what your competition is."

The masters rider will also be outnumbered by competitors from Auckland and Waikato-Bay of Plenty as Southland looks to overcome a one point deficit to their hosts, to claim the National Points Shield for the 10th consecutive year.

A knee injury from participating in the seven-day Pioneer mountainbike race has hampered his preparation, but a well earned break has seen Akeroyd return to full fitness.

Not to be outdone, Rhylee Akeroyd turned a lot of heads when she claimed the under-15 500m time trial at the 2016 nationals.

Rhylee's achievement was even more impressive given that it was her first year in the age-group.

"The last nationals was her first big event, she was quite rapt with it, she was a bit of a novice," Brendan Akeroyd said.

This year the 13-year-old will compete in the 500m time trial, points race, derby and scratch race in the same age-group, with further success not out of the question.

"She is a contender for all four events, as with last year it surprised everybody with the way she performed as a first year under-15 as a bit of a novice and came away with a gold medal, which was great, but this year she has really stepped up."

"She has been training really hard all year for this event, she's expected to do quite well."

Rhylee's sister Camryn Akeroyd also won a gold medal last year as part of the Southland under-17 pursuit team, but will miss the 2017 nationals through injury.

At a glance

What: 2017 Age Group Track Cycling National Championships

Where: Cambridge

When: Wednesday to Sunday

Article and photo courtesy Stuff

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