A mix of elite and development riders, including many Southlanders, will start the international track cycling season at the Oceania Championships in Adelaide on Wednesday.
Cycling New Zealand has a 37-strong squad across elite and junior divisions for the four-day continental championships at the Adelaide Super-Drome.
While the championships carry qualifying points for the World Championships and ultimately the Tokyo Olympics, it is also a key chance for development riders to press their claims.
“It carries a dual function for us really. While it has qualifying points for Tokyo, this is a prime opportunity to blood our next group of young riders who may well push for places in the team for Tokyo and beyond,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“We have brought our elite and development riders here in sprint but the endurance squad are nearly all development riders, with the elite group focussing on the upcoming World Cup competitions in France and Canada.
“A number of our elite endurance riders are only just returning from their road obligations in Europe and USA and so we need to bring them back on to the track with a measure of care because it is a long season ahead.”
There are some newcomers joining the proven experienced riders in the elite team for Adelaide, including former junior world championship medallists Emily Shearman (Palmerston North), Jessie Hodges (Hamilton), Kate Smith (Christchurch) and Nicole Shields (Clyde) in the females and Auckland’s Aaron Wylie in the males.
“These young riders have come through our development pathways including some through the Subway Performance Hubs which are working well and providing us with talent coming through our system.”
The sprint group is led by the world and Commonwealth Games champion men’s team pursuit trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins who will come up against a powerful Australian squad during the competition.
The team for the Oceania Championships is:
Elite Endurance, Female: Michaela Drummond (Manawatu), Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato-Bay of Plenty), Emily Shearman (Manawatu), Jessie Hodges (Waikato-BOP), Kate Smith (Canterbury), Ellesse Andrews (Waikato-BOP), Nicole Shields (Central Otago-Southland). Male: Campbell Stewart (Manawatu), Harry Waine (Auckland), Jared Gray (Waikato-BOP), Tom Sexton (Southland), Aaron Wyllie (Auckland).
Elite Sprint, Male: Eddie Dawkins (Southland), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Sam Webster (Auckland), Bradly Knipe (Southland), Jordan Castle (Manawatu), Zac Williams (Auckland). Female: Emma Cumming (Southland), Natasha Hansen (Southland), Olivia Podmore (Canterbury).
Junior, Female: Emily Paterson (Southland), Erin Downie (Canterbury), Eva Parkinson (Waikato Bay of Plenty), Mya Anderson (Waikato Bay of Plenty), Tyla Green (Southland), Helena Rikiti (Southland), Olivia King (Waikato Bay of Plenty).
Junior Male: Griffyn Spencer (Canterbury), Laurence Pithie (Canterbury), Conor Shearing (Southland), Max Williams (Hawkes Bay), Reuben Webster (Waikato BOP), Angus Claasen (Manawatu), Patrick Clancy (Waikato Bay of Plenty), Sam Upton (Auckland), Cameron Manley (Auckland)