Olympic medallist Simon van Velthooven showed a glimpse of his world class abilities to win an exciting keirin final at the Avanti BikeNZ Classic in Cambridge tonight.
Van Velthooven edged out two-time world champion Shane Perkins from Australia in a brilliant final at the Avantidrome in the first event to offer qualifying points towards the Rio Olympics, attracting riders from Australia, USA, Malaysia, Ireland, Canada and the Czech Republic.
Fellow Commonwealth Games representative Stephanie McKenzie took out the women’s keirin final when she overcame Australian Caitlin Ward with a powerful finish.
However while the Kiwis proved fastest tonight, the Australians dominated the endurance events with Ashlee Ankudinoff winning all six events in the women’s omnium, Scott Law claimed today’s three final events to win the men’s omnium and then took out the men’s 15km scratch race.
The field for the men’s keirin was stacked with world and Commonwealth champions, with van Velthooven winning a stacked semifinal ahead of sprint medallists Jacob Schmid (AUS) and Sam Webster (NZL).
An in-form Perkins won the other semifinal from Matt Archibald and Malaysia’s Muhammad Shah Sahrom.
Webster rounded the field in the keirin final to head off Perkins while van Velthooven was locked on the inside. However Perkins kicked again and the big Manawatu rider went with him, lunging at the line to claim the victory.
“When Sam came over I was going to go again and push for a one-two Kiwi finish but I knew Shane had good legs because he has been riding really good keirins in Japan,” van Velthooven said.
“We rode 10.3 for the last 200m which this early in the season is really fast. I only just got around him and pretty happy to win tonight.”
Van Velthooven, who has just returned from racing in the Japan Keirin League, was pleased with the result after a busy schedule.
“I’ve had five races in five weeks in Japan, with some big travel and then come here, and move into my house this week. My training has been moving furniture.
“It’s good to come here with a tired body but fresh frame of mind ready to take the next step towards the big goal of our team winning gold medals in Rio.”
Earlier McKenzie rode over the top of sprint winner Ward to win the women’s keirin final.
The 21-year-old has thrived since moving to the centralised programme at Cambridge earlier this year, earning a late selection to the Commonwealth Games where she set a personal best and national record.
McKenzie prospered in the keirin final, the benefit of some new tactics.
“I’m definitely a bit surprised seeing I’ve only just got back after a break,” McKenzie said. “I am trying some different things. I found from racing in Adelaide and the Commonwealth Games that the speed is so much faster.
“So I am bigger and stronger than before and pushing a bigger gear. My coach Anthony Peden said I could have got off my seat and sprinted earlier but I’m not that confident yet. That said I’m happy with that. It’s a good start to a big season for the sprint programme.”
The Australian cyclists showed they will be a real force in omnium competition looking ahead to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Law edged compatriot Sam Welsford in the six-discipline men’s omnium with 2013 world champion Aaron Gate third.
Law, the 23 year old from New South Wales, won all three events today - the 1000m time trial, flying lap and the 40km points race to claim the honours. The former apprentice carpenter built a solid platform today, clocking 1:03.322 to win the 1000m time trial, 13.152s to claim the flying lap and dominated the points race.
He finished clear of compatriot Welsford with Gate getting up in the final sprint to earn third.
Ankudinoff, a former team pursuit world champion, was even more dominant winning the 500m time trial in 36.469s, flying lap in 14.362 and storming to win the points race.
The junior keirin finals were won by the inform Nick Kergozou from Invercargill, who also won the 10km scratch race, while fellow Southlander Emma Cumming took out the junior women’s final.
Tomorrow is the Avanti BikeNZ Cup with sprint competition and endurances racing in the evening, finishing with the exciting Madison.
Day 2 results, finals only:
Elite women, 500m time trial: Ashlee Ankudinoff (AUS) 36.469, 1; Jaime Nielsen (NZL) 37.772, 2; Rebecca Wiasak (AUS) 38.137, 3. Flying lap: Ankudinoff 14.362, 1; Wiasak 15.167, 2; Lauren Ellis (NZL) 15.374, 3. Points race: Ankudinoff 33 points, 1; Ellis 25, 2; Wiasak 22, 3.
Final points: Ankudinoff 233, Wiasak 210, Ellis 195, Nielsen 175, Georgia Williams (NZL) 165.
Elite men, 1000m time trial: Scott Law (AUS) 1:03.322, 1; Cam Karwowski (NZL) 1:04.786, 2; Sam Welsford (AUS) 1:05.660, 3. Flying Lap: Law 13.152, 1; Welsford 13.218, 2; Alex Porter (AUS) 13.346, 3. Points race: Law 45, 1; Welsford 29, 2, Gate 26, 3.
Final points: Law 237, Welsford 219, Gate 194, Porter 184, Adrian Hegyvary (USA) 180.
Keirin, men, Round 1, Heat 1: Eddie Dawkins (NZL) 1, Callum Saunders (WBOP) 2; Heat 2: Shane Perkins (AUS) 1, Zac Williams (NZL) 2; Heat 3: Patrick Constable (AUS) 1, Sam Webster (NZL) 2; heat 4: Simon van Velthooven (NZL) 1, Matt Archibald (NZL) 2.
Repechage, heat 1: Ben Stewart (Southland) 1, Muhammad Modh Zonis (MAL) 2. Heat 2: Muhammad Shah Sahrom (MAL) 1, Jacob Schmid (AUS) 2. Semifinal, heat 1: Van Velthooven 1, Schmid 2, Webster 3. Heat 2: Perkins 1, Archibald 2, Sahrom 3. 7th – 12th: Dawkins 1, Callum Saunders (WBOP) 2, Constable 3. Final: Van Velthooven 1, Perkins 2, Sahrom 3.
Elite women, final: Steph McKenzie (NZL) 1, Caitlin Ward (AUS) 2, Tess Young (WBOP) 3.
Elite Women Points (25km): Rebecca Wiasak (AUS) 51 points, 1; Georgia Williams (NZL) 45, 2; Racquel Sheath (WBOP) 3.
Men Scratch Race 15km: Law 1, Pieter Bulling (NZL) 2, Welsford 3.
Men Scratch 10km: Nick Kergozou (Southland) 1, Carne Groube (WCNI) 2, Max Jones (NZL) 3.
Women Elimination: Michaela Drummond (NZL) 1, Ruby Perry (WCNI) 2.
Men Elimination: Campbell Stewart (Southland) 1, Nick Kergouzou (Southland) 2.
Women Keirin Final: Emma Cumming (NZL) 1, Jaymie King (NZL) 2, Michaela Drummond (NZL) 3.
Men Keirin Final: Kergozou 1, Hamish Beadle (Southland) 2, Lewis Eccles (Taupo) 3.
CAPTION: Simon van Velthooven gets up over Shane Perkins to win the keirin final.
Photo courtesy Dianne Manson