Enterprising form last month has earned young female sprinters Natasha Hansen and Katie Schofield the opportunity to press a late claim for Olympic selection.
The pair, who produced world class times at last month’s Oceania Championships in Invercargill, have been selected for next week’s UCI World Cup in Beijing.
If they can improve on the form they showed at Invercargill, it could win them further opportunities toward the Olympic selection.
Hansen 22 from Invercargill and Schofield 27 from Dunedin will contest the team sprint, individual sprint and keirin at Beijing.
The pair won the Oceania team sprint with a national record of 34.401 that would have placed them ninth fastest at last year’s world championships, while Hansen’s New Zealand record of 11.366s in the sprints would have placed her eighth fastest at the worlds.
“The women have come on really well in the past year,” said BikeNZ national sprint coach Justin Grace. “They are mirroring the progress of the men and are probably in the same position that the men were in two years ago.
“They have a chance if they can keep improving. It is within their capability.”
Grace will take Matt Archibald to his first World Cup where he will be the starter for the team sprint along with fellow Invercargill rider Eddie Dawkins and the in-form Simon van Velthooven.
“It will be experience for Matt but he is riding well and it is his chance to put his hand up for higher honours.”
The Beijing World Cup provides an opportunity for the second group of pursuiters to press for higher honours.
“We have genuine depth in the programme now,” said BikeNZ endurance coach Tim Carswell. “It has been a crucial part of our overall development.
“There is little between the whole squad. Beijing represents their chance to push their claims for spots in the team pursuit for the London World Cup and the World Championships before we make the final selection for the Olympics.”
The men’s combination includes Beijing Olympians Westley Gough and Peter Latham while the women’s trio includes world championship medallist Kaytee Boyd.
Cantabrian Joanne Kiesanowski is competing in Beijing, given a further chance to gain experience in the new Olympic discipline of the Omnium and pick up more valuable qualifying points for London.
The squad, currently in camp in Invercargill, fly out for Beijing on Sunday with competition on 12-15 January.
The team is:
Male endurance: Jason Allen, Westley Gough, Cameron Karwowski, Peter Latham, Myron Simpson.
Male Sprint: Matthew Archibald, Eddie Dawkins, Simon van Velthooven.
Female endurance: Kaytee Boyd, Rushlee Buchanan, Gemma Dudley, Joanne Kiesanowski.
Female sprint: Natasha Hansen, Katie Schofield.
Coaches: Stuart MacDonald, Justin Grace, Ross Machejefski, John Rastrick.