Champion sprinters Sam Webster and Stephanie McKenzie added the prized keirin titles in brilliant performances on the penultimate night of finals at the Track Cycling National Championships in Cambridge tonight.
Webster, 22, held off a class field including all three members of the world champion team sprint and Olympic bronze medallist Simon van Velthooven at the Avantidrome.
Earlier McKenzie picked up her third title with a classy victory in the women’s final, while the battle of the endurance riders featured a first-ever win for Olympian Lauren Ellis in the women’s points race while Taupo’s Patrick Bevin rode brilliantly to win the men’s points race.
The final of the keirin saw Aucklander Ethan Mitchell grab the wheel of the derny before Webster rounded him up with two laps remaining. The big guns pushed hard but Webster held them off in a thrilling finish from Mitchell with Matt Archibald third just ahead of fellow Southland youngster Jeremy Presbury.
“This means a lot because I’ve come second and third and so it’s pretty awesome to take the win in a field of that quality,” a spent Webster said.
“The final at nationals is always a close fought battle and I had to go really deep to get that one. It was a really hard race and I am happy to come out on top.”
Twenty year old McKenzie has put her hand up for nomination to the Commonwealth Games with her third title of the week follow victory in the 250m time trial and the sprint.
Her performance in controlling the women’s keirin final showed a maturity beyond her years, something the Southlander is proud of.
“I have been working hard on becoming more aware of the riders around and behind me,” Mckenzie said.
“I knew they would be coming at me but I waited and picked my time. I felt under control throughout that race. I didn’t even make the final of the keirin last year so this title is perhaps the most rewarding of the three this week.
“Wow three titles is pretty overwhelming. Hopefully I have put my hand up now and that can get me to Glasgow.”
McKenzie was on second wheel but was rounded up with a lap to go by Natasha Hansen but the sprint and 250m time trial winner moved to a higher gear to push to the front with the 500m time trial winner Katie Schofield (Otago) flying home for second ahead of Hansen.
Ellis from Mid South Canterbury held off a storming finish from Canterbury’s Elizabeth Steel to take the women’s 10km scratch race.
It was the first time that Ellis, a former points race national champion, has medalled in the scratch race, going to the front on the final lap and holding off the charge from Steel with Southland’s Sequoia Cooper third.
The men’s points race saw Bevin, who has recently returned to the track after three successful years on the road, produce a courageous and clever ride to claim victory from former world omnium champion Aaron Gate with Auckland’s Myron Simpson third.
Timaru’s Shane Archbold made the early running with Bevin picking up handy points until Gate made a break, covered by Bevin as they put a lap on the field along with Simpson and Archbold.
Gate tried several times to repeat the break but every time Bevin was able to cover him, finishing with 42 points ahead of Gate on 24 and Simpson on 32.
In Under-19 action, Christchurch 16 year old Olivia Podmore made it four national titles when she won the sprint, beating Auckland’s Bryony Botha in two straight rides in the final. Botha impressed after also finishing runner-up in the points race earlier.
Southland’s Michael Culling was all class in winning the sprint honours in straight rides, while Nina Wollaston held off Auckland teammate Botha to claim the points race.
The most impressive display came from Waipukurau 17 year old Regan Gough who blitzed the field, including gaining a lap, to win the points race with 47 points with second placed Luke Mudgway on 11. Earlier in the competition Gough, cousin of Olympian Wes Gough, rode a world class 3:18.942 on his way to victory in the 3000m individual pursuit.
Tomorrow’s final day features the team pursuit and team sprint, with an expected finals’ battle between Southland and Auckland, with the competition winding up with the spectacular two-man Madison.
Elite, women keirin Final: Stephanie McKenzie (Southland) 1, Katie Schofield (Otago) 2, Natasha Hansen (Southland) 3.
Men keirin semifinal 1: Simon van Velthooven (WCNI) 1, Jeremy Presbury (Southland) 2, Eddie Dawkins (Southland) 3. Semifinal 2: Matthew Archibald (Southland) 1, Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) 2, Sam Webster (Auckland) 3. Final: Webster 1, Mitchell 2, Archibald 3.
Elite Women Scratch 10km: Lauren Ellis (Mid South Canterbury) 1, Elizabeth Steel (Canterbury) 2, Sequoia Cooper (Southland) 3.
Elite men Points 30km: Patrick Bevin (Waikato BOP) 42 points, 1; Aaron Gate (Auckland) 34, 2; Myron Simpson (Auckland) 32, 3.
Women Sprint semifinal 1: Olivia Podmore (Canterbury) bt Jayme King (Waikato BOP) 2-0; Semifinal 2: Bryony Botha (Auckland) bt Kate Stewart (WCNI) 2-0.Final: Podmore bt Botha 2-0.
Men Sprint semifinal 1: Michael Culling (Southland) bt Sam Dakin (Auckland) 2-0; Jordan Castle (WCNI) bt Lewis Eccles (Waikato BOP) 2-0. Final: Culling bt Castle 2-0.
Women Points 15km: Nina Wollaston (Auckland) 13 points, 1; Bryony Botha (Auckland) 11, 2; Holly Edmondston (Canterbury) 10, 3.
Men Points Race 20km: Regan Gough (ECNI) 47 points, 1; Luke Mudgway (ECNI) 11, 2; John Newman-Watt (Auckland) 8, 3.