Cycling New Zealand has challenged riders to produce world class performances at the Skoda National Championships that start at the Avantidrome in Cambridge tomorrow.
The championships for elite and under-19 riders double as the final trial for selection to next month’s UCI track world championships in Paris.
Places in the team are still up for grabs with selectors looking for performances capable of medals in Paris.
“We will be sending a large team that will be focussed on our key Olympic events,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director Mark Elliott. “18 months out from Rio it is critical to have our riders stepping up to medal level rides at Worlds”
“There are definitely spots in that team to be decided this week and we are looking for riders to produce world class times and world class performances.”
The national championships, like the worlds, will carry the full range of events but most interest is likely to centre on four Olympic events comprising the individual sprint, team sprint, keirin and team pursuit with the omnium competed for in a separate national event later in the year.
New Zealand riders have produced strong performances over the past 12 months and in the recent UCI World Cup series. Current Olympic rankings of nations list New Zealand’s world champion team sprint second, the revamped women’s team pursuit third while the men’s team pursuit, men’s omnium, sprint and keirin all ranked fourth.
“There’s been some solid performances from a number of our riders which has us well placed in rankings, “said Elliott. “However the world championships are the pinnacle target for this year and while our performances have tracked well, it now comes down to the ability to produce a medal winning effort in Paris next month.
“We want to see riders who are tracking that way and putting their hands up in Cambridge this week that they want to be in that team.”
The championships also incorporate the country’s leading paracyclists as they prepare for their world championships.
Tomorrow’s opening day features individual pursuit and time trials, Friday focuses on individual sprint, women’s points race and men’s scratch, Saturday will see the keirin competition, women’s scratch race and men’s points with the final day on Sunday to feature team sprint, team pursuit and the men’s Madison.
Paracyclists focus on time trials tomorrow, tandem time trials on Friday, tandem pursuit and qualifying for individual pursuit on Saturday with individual pursuit finals on Sunday.
Competition at the Avantidrome begins at 10am daily until early afternoon with finals sessions from 7pm on Thursday and Friday, 6.30pm on Saturday and 4pm on Sunday.
Each day includes two sessions; day and evening. Tickets are available online now through www.tracknationals.co.nz Adults from $15 and children from $8.