Date: Friday, 26 October 2018

UCI TISSOT TRACK CYCLING WORLD CUP CANADA - VANTAGE NEW ZEALAND PREVIEW

Vantage New Zealand track cyclists believe this week’s second UCI World Cup in Canada will provide a litmus test on their progress ultimately towards the Tokyo Olympics.

There were a range of results from the opening competition in Paris last weekend, with the women’s endurance and women’s sprint squads producing excellent performances.

The men’s endurance squad surprised themselves with their first-up showing but could not push on in the second round of the team pursuit, while the men’s sprint trio had an unfortunate mechanical failure that cost their chances in the team sprint.

They face arguably tougher opposition in the second world cup at Milton near Toronto starting tomorrow, with some nations swapping out riders and bringing stronger squads.

Initial focus will be on the performance of Olympic silver medallists Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins who missed out on some valuable ranking points after Webster’s foot unclipped from the pedal in qualifying.

“It was a freakish incident that we could not predict but we have already looked at ways of ensuring it won’t happen again,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.

The upside is that all three are in good form.

Mitchell was third fastest of all starters in the team sprint and came within a 0.2s of his national record in sprint qualifying. Webster set a new personal best in sprint qualifying while Dawkins was the fastest third wheel rider by a significant margin and was in outstanding form to win the silver medal in the keirin.

“They will be well motivated to make amends this week. Certainly the individual form looks good so it is a matter of them executing three good rides.”

There was encouraging efforts from the women’s sprint pair of Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming, who set a new personal best in the individual sprint qualifying.

“In particular Emma really impressed us and responded well to the hard work she has put in during the winter and we will be looking for them to continue to advance as a team sprint combination this week.”

The women’s endurance combination was impressive with a silver medal in Paris after putting together three strong rides, and breaking the New Zealand record in the final. Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond, who rode in Paris, have gone to compete in the six-day competition in London, with recent Oceania individual pursuit champion Ellesse Andrews joining Rushlee Buchanan, Kirstie James, Bryony Botha and Holly Edmondston in Canada.

“The group was excellent in Paris and came so close to beating Australia in the final which was their best ride of the weekend. A couple of them have some illness so we are hoping it will settle before racing as we have come with just five riders here.”

The men’s endurance squad set a good marker in qualifying in the team pursuit but could not improve on this and did not feature in the business end of individual competition.

“It is very early for many of these riders who have come off a long road season. This weekend will very much give us a clear idea of their situation and what we have to work on through to our next big goal which will be the World Cup in Cambridge in January.”

The competition begins with qualifying for the team pursuit later today with racing underway on Saturday (NZ time.

CAPTION: Emma Cumming looking to improve further in Milton, Canada this weekend on her personal best set in the opening UCI Track World Cup in Paris. (Photo Guy Swarbrick)

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