The Australians served notice that they have little regard for Commonwealth Games medals when they took it to the Kiwis on the first morning of the Avanti BikeNZ Classic at Cambridge.
The event at the Avantidrome is the first to offer qualifying points towards the 2016 Rio Olympics, comprising riders from Australia, USA, Malaysia, Canada and Czech Republic.
It is the first competition since Glasgow for the New Zealand team who won a record 11 medals on the track, although the riders have only just returned to training in the last two weeks.
The sprinters were in action today with tonight’s semifinals pitting Commonwealth Games gold medallist Sam Webster against compatriot Simon van Velthooven while the other semi is an all-Australian affair between youngsters Jacob Schmid and Patrick Constable.
National champion Steph McKenzie takes on Waikato’s Tess Young with Australian Caitlin Ward up against Otago’s Katie Schofield in the women’s sprint semifinals.
The first race of the six-discipline omnium was dominated by Australians with former world champion Ashlee Ankudinoff claiming victory in the scratch race, and then returning to repeat the dose in the individual scratch race.
The Australians grabbed first blood in the first round of the men’s omnium with Scott Law claiming the 15km scratch race ahead of compatriot Sam Welsford with New Zealand’s Aaron Gate third.
Earlier Schmid, the former double junior world champion, set a new track record to top qualifiers in the men’s sprint. The Australian clocked 10.035 in a superb ride, nearly matched in the final ride by Kiwi Eddie Dawkins, who was timed at 10.048 which was faster than the time he set at the national championships earlier in the year.
The main upset in the first round was Auckland’s Zac Williams, in his first year in the elite ranks, beating team sprint world champion Ethan Mitchell. All of the other seeds won through to the quarterfinals.
In a repeat of their battle in the semifinal of the Commonwealth Games, Webster held off teammate Dawkins in two straight rides to qualify for the semifinals.
Tonight’s action features the semifinals and finals of the sprint competition, two further rounds of the omnium with the individual pursuit and elimination race and the elite men’s points race.
The event, which finishes on Saturday, has the heats from 10am and finals from 7pm with tickets available at the door.
CAPTION: Commonwealth Games medallist Matt Archibald pushed off by BikeNZ sprint coach Anthony Peden at the Avanti BikeNZ Classic meet in Cambridge today.
Photo courtesy Dianne Manson.