Date: Saturday, 04 February 2017


Olympic medallist Sam Webster banked his fifth consecutive men’s sprint title on the second night of the Vantage Window and Doors National Track Cycling Championships in Invercargill.

While Webster is best known as one-third of New Zealand’s world champion team sprint lineup, the national individual sprint title has special meaning for him after he first used it as a springboard back into the black skinsuit after missing out on selection for the 2012 London Olympics.

“After missing out on London it was my goal to win four sprint titles, because that was me putting my hand up for Rio and saying you can’t leave me out again,” said Webster. “I needed to get to Rio otherwise I was going to finish my degree and stop riding, it was that simple. I put all my eggs in that basket because that London disappointment hurt me.

“We’ve got a different plan now. We’ve got a big few years coming up and Tokyo is going to be big for us, because we’ve got that fire in the belly. We will look to build each year, potentially some of the events that were important before won’t be as important now.”

Webster overcame his Auckland and New Zealand teammate Ethan Mitchell in two rides after Mitchell had topped qualifying in the morning.

Eddie Dawkins (Southland) was the third fastest qualifier but suffered a surprise quarterfinal loss to Waikato/Bay of Plenty rider Callum Saunders. He proved that result was no fluke when he pushed Mitchell to three rides in their semifinal, but it was another Rio Olympian in Zac Williams who made it a clean sweep for Auckland when he won the bronze medal final in two rides over Saunders.

Southland’s Natasha Hansen defended her New Zealand title in the women’s sprint with two comfortable-looking wins over Olivia Podmore (Canterbury) in the final. Emma Cumming (Southland) took bronze with two wins over Tess Young (Waikato/Bay of Plenty).

“It was my first sprint racing since Rio, so I felt like I was just trying to get my bearings in the first few rounds,” Hansen said.

“It was good to meet Emma in the semis because she has been pushing me to my limits in training and it was good to have that hard racing going into the final.”

Hansen will race the keirin on Saturday before returning for work in Hamilton where she has recently completed her qualifications to be an air traffic controller.

“I’m pretty lucky with my company Airways, they’ve been so good with giving me the time off I need with my sport.”

Waikato Bay of Plenty Performance Hub rider, Ellesse Andrews rode a massive under 19 women’s 2000m individual pursuit final to break her own New Zealand record and go within 0.158sec of the world record set in Italy last year.

Emily Shearman (West Coast North Island) was left holding silver, with Nicole Shields (Southland) beating Kate Smith (Canterbury) in the bronze medal ride-off.

Cantabrian Jessie Banks won a tightly-contested under 19 women’s keirin final from Shaane Fulton (Tasman) and Georgia Danford (Auckland).

Jackson Ogle added the men’s under 19 keirin title to the 1000m time trial he claimed on Thursday night, but the Waikato/Bay of Plenty rider was made to work hard against a four-strong Southland contingent in the keirin final. Ewan Syme took silver with his Southland teammate Nepia Ruwhui grabbing bronze.

Rushlee Buchanan, who has come off tough road racing for her US professional team in Australia, won the women’s 20km points race from Rio Olympic teammate and Waikato/Bay of Plenty teammate Racquel Sheath, with Michaela Drummond (West Coast North Island) third.

Dylan Kennett (Waikato/Bay of Plenty) and Southland’s Josh Haggerty mounted a long-range attack in the men’s 15km scratch race. Kennett cleared out in the last few laps to claim his second national title in as many nights, with Haggerty hanging on for silver and Carne Groube (West Coast North Island) sprinting the chasing bunch for third.

Racing continues on Saturday with the under 19 men’s and women’s sprints, and the elite keirin for both the men and women.

Results, day 2 finals:

Elite Women Sprint Qualifying: Natasha Hansen (SLD) 11.240, 1; Olivia Podmore (CTB) 11.277, 2; Emma Cumming (SLD) 11.735 3, Tess Young (WBP) 11.867 4, Stephanie McKenzie (WCN) 12.074 5, Jaymie King (WBP) 12.131 6, Lisa Hunkin (WGN) 12.462 7, Victoria Steel (CTB) 12.527 8

Semifinals: Podmore bt Young 2-0, Hansen bt Cumming 2-0. Final: Hansen bt Podmore 2-0.

Elite Men Sprint Qualifying: Ethan Mitchell (AKL) 9.954, 1; Sam Webster (ALK), 9.993, 2; Eddie Dawkins (SLD) 10.048, 3; Zac Williams (AKL) 10.144, 4; Jordan Castle (WCN) 10.211, 5;  Bradly Knipe (SLD) 10.369, 6;  Callum Saunders (WBP) 10.388, 7; Samuel Dakin (AKL) 10.511, 8.

Semifinals: Mitchell bt Saunders 2-1, Webster bt Williams 2-0. Final: Webster bt Mitchell 2-0.

Women 20km Points: Rushlee Buchanan (WBP) 40points, 1; Racquel Sheath (WBP) 38points, 2; and Michaela Drummond (WCN) 31 points, 3

Men 15km Scratch: Dylan Kennett (WBP) 1, Joshua Haggerty (SLD) 2, Came Groube (WCN) 3

Under 19, Women 2000m Individual Pursuit, qualifying:  Ellesse Andrews (WBP) 2.25.793, 1; Emily Shearman (WCN) 2.26.990, 2; Nicole Shields (SLD) 2.27.604, 3; Kate Smith (CTB) 2.28.289, 4.

Final: Ellesse Andrews (WBP) 2.22.469, 1; Emily Shearman (WCN) 2.26.690, 2; Nicole Shields (SLD) 3.

Men 3000m Individual Pursuit Qualifying: Aaron Wylie (AKL) 3.21.144, 1; Corbin Strong (SLD) 3.21.292, 2; Joshua Scott (CTB) 3.22.630, 3; Harry Waine (AKL) 3.25.275, 4.

Final: Aaron Wylie (AKL) 3.20.825, 1; Corbin Strong (SLD) 3.22.629, 2; Joshua Scott (CTB) 3

Men Keirin: Jackson Ogle (WBP) 1, Ewan Syme (SLD) 2, and Nepia Ruwhiu (SLD) 3

Women Keirin: Jessie Banks (CTB) 1, Shaane Fulton (TAS) 2, and Georgia Danford (AKL)

CAPTION: Auckland clean sweep of the men sprint with (from left) Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Zac Williams. The image is free for editorial use only. Credit: Dianne Manson

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