It was a double golden day for the small New Zealand team at the UCI Juniors Track Cycling World Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan overnight.
The women’s team pursuit broke the world record on their way to an emphatic victory in the final over Australia. It is the first time a New Zealand women’s team pursuit has won the coveted rainbow jerseys, and just the second time any Kiwi female has won a gold medal at the junior world championships since the great Sarah Ulmer in 1994.
The celebrations continued when brilliant Manawatu prospect Campbell Stewart prevailed in the final sprint of the men’s 10km scratch race, the first time a New Zealand rider has won this title in nearly 50 years of the competition.
Yesterday’s team sprint silver medallist Olivia Podmore was also back on the podium, winning the bronze medal in the 500m time trial.
“That was a great day of performances and fantastic to have two rainbow jersey rides following the silver for the sprint girls yesterday,” said coach Ross Machjefski.
The women’s quartet of Bryony Botha (Auckland), Michaela Drummond (Palmerston North), Madeleine Park (Auckland) and Holly White (Auckland) dominated their final against Australia, not only winning comfortably but breaking the world record in the process.
They dispatched Japan in the first round ride in the morning, riding to schedule in 4:37.222, to earn a place in the gold medal ride.
Overnight the UCI had ratified the July world record set by Italy of 4:33.463, to nullify the world mark of the Kiwi team of 4:35.155 set in yesterday’s qualifying.
The track conditions were ideal for the final against Australia, who had edged out Russia in the other semifinal. The team zoomed home in 4:31.966 to add a world record to their rainbow jerseys.
“The conditions were fast tonight. We were confident we could go out and ride well. With six laps to go I thought we had a chance to go under the 4:33 world record, and they brought it home with a big last three laps. It was an outstanding effort.”
Park said the gold medal had not sunk in.
“It is pretty surreal feeling to come to my first world championships and my first race and coming out a world champion,” she said.
“It was an awesome ride from start to finish. Everyone did exactly to plan. It’s an added bonus to come out with a world record as well.”
Park said it was important to re-focus on the individual pursuit tomorrow.
“Perhaps after that the rainbow jersey and the world record might sink it more.”
It was doubly rewarding for Botha and White who won bronze medals in the team pursuit at the world championships in Korea last year.
Eighteen year old Stewart from Palmerston North was made to work hard just to qualify for the scratch race final, after a seven-strong group put a lap on the field in the qualifying race.
“The work he did just to qualify this morning put a bit of a target on his back. Tonight he worked so hard and chased down a few breaks and was a deserved winner,” said Machjefski.
Stewart was well positioned for the sprint finish but was knocked off line by the Italian rider who was later disqualified and the Kiwi promoted to the gold medal spot.
“Campbell really put himself out there with a blistering finish sprint. It was a bit of a shame that the Italian came through and knocked him off his line and was rightly disqualified.”
The young Palmerston North rider was delighted with his result.
“It is pretty unreal. There was awesome support from everyone. Everything went to plan. I had to do a bit of work to do tonight but it went well. I’m so thankful for the help from my coach Mike McRedmond at home and for Ross here.
“This is a step up and hopefully it will raise me a level looking ahead to the omnium starting tomorrow.”
Podmore joined her medal-winning teammate Emma Cumming back on the track for the 500m time trial.
Germans Pauline Grabosch and Emma Hinze proved the class off the field, claiming gold and silver in 34.657s and 34.729s respectively.
Podmore from Christchurch produced an excellent effort to clock 34.980, breaking her own national junior record set at the New Zealand Championships earlier this year by nearly a second.
Cumming also recorded a significant personal best to finish fourth in 35.484.
Machjefski is confident more results will follow.
“After two gold medals we have some awesome confidence. The vibe in the team is pretty exciting and now a lot of riders go into their individual events. They may be a little tired but so will everyone else.”
Day 2 results:
Women 4000m team pursuit, gold medal ride: New Zealand (Bryony Botha, Michaela Drummond, Madeleine Park, Holly White) 4:31.966, 1 (World Record); Australia 4:37.493, 2.
Bronze medal: Japan 4:39.374, 3; Russia 4:39.394, 4.
Semifinals: New Zealand 4:37,222, 1; Japan 4:42.551, 2; Australia 4:39.613, 1; Russia 4:42.061, 2;
Men scratch race, 10km: Campbell Stewart (NZL) 1, Yuttana Mano (THA) 2, Denis Nekrasov (RUS) 3.
Women 500m time trial: Pauline Grabosch (GER) 34.657, 1; Emma Hinze (GER) 34.729, 2; Olivia Podmore (NZL) 34.980, 3; Emma Cumming (NZL) 35.484, 4.