Domination – there’s no other way to describe Myron Simpson and Aaron Gate’s victory in the RaboDirect New Zealand Madison Championships at the ILT Velodrome.
The Auckland guns dominated the race from the outset, lapping the field in the opening third of the 160-lap stanza and securing the majority of points up for grabs.
“We started off going for some early points and that worked out well … we stretched the field out and once we were out in front we just put our heads down and kept going,” Simpson said.
Claiming silver at the World Cup in Melbourne last week ensured the duo was primed for their assault on the New Zealand crown during this week’s three-day ILT Festival of Speed extravaganza.
“It set us up pretty well … racing is the best training,” he said.
It was the first senior national title for each rider – and nearly didn’t happen.
“It was a last minute call to come down here actually,” Gate said. “Once we got here we just decided we may as well have a good crack at it.”
Southland’s Cam Karwowski combined strongly with Westley Gough to secure the silver medal.
Switzerland riders Gregory Hugentobler and Cyrille Thiery (right) performed admirably to claim third on the track but were unable to officially contest the New Zealand title which saw Jesse Sergeant and Sam Bewley promoted into bronze medal.
For Thiery, the experience of racing in New Zealand was the biggest drawcard.
“New Zealand have very good riders – some of the best in the world,” he said.
Simpson and Gate also added the Elite Endurance Tag Team 20-lap race to their tally, narrowly beating Regan Sheath and George Scott.
Southland’s Erin Criglington opened proceedings in sublime fashion, slicing 0.4sec off the New Zealand masters 500m record she set in March.
“I really just wanted to gauge where I’m at with my training so I’m absolutely rapt to set a new record,” she said.
Nominating yourself for a record attempt heaped on the pressure.
“You have to be able to physically do it but you also have to be in the right head space,” she said. “It’s nice when everything comes together on the night.”
Record night belonged to the Southland ladies with Natasha Hansen (left) the only other successful rider to etch her name in the books. Hansen shaved 0.021sec off the flying 200m record to clock a new standard of 11.681sec.
Hansen also dominated the women’s keirin A final, taking top honours ahead of Auckland’s Henrietta Mitchell.
Southland young gun Tom Beadle came agonisingly close to snatching the under-19 mens’ 500m record with a time of 34.452 – just 0.015 off the pace.
In the hotly-contested Elite Men’s Sprint standing lap, Auckland’s Ethan Mitchell toppled hometown hero Eddie Dawkins with a blistering time of 17.695 – a New Zealand record and personal best. Dawkins finished in 18.106sec.
“We’re all team-mates and it really just comes down to whoever’s better on the day,”
Mitchell said. “I’m stoked to go out and do a personal best.
“I love this track and we haven’t been down here since March so to be back in familiar territory is awesome.”
In the battle for third, Otago rider Nathan Seddon’s time of 18.101 was good enough to repel Southland’s Matt Archibald in 18.393.
In the Elite Sprint men’s consolation 750m wheel race, Auckland’s Sam Webster held off a strong challenge from Simon Van Velthooven, while Auckland’s Stephanie McKenzie beat Katie Schofield, of Dunedin, in the women’s keirin B final.
And there were plenty of thrills off the track with New Zealand’s leading freestyle BMX rider Paul Langlands twisting through the air high above the enthralled spectators.
The Cambridge-based shredder ignited the crowd with an array of tricks, including flips, 360s, tail whips and the rarely-seen “decade”.
“It’s a pretty gnarly trick – I don’t do that one often and this is the first time I’ve done it in front of a crowd,” Langlands said.
Performing a velodrome was a novel experience for Langlands, who was joined by other riders, including Winton’s Brett Frew on a mountainbike and Dunedin’s Jason Young on a 50cc motorbike.
“It’s cool being indoors – it makes everything easier when the winds not a factor,” he said.
Young Invercargill daredevil Chaz Speers relished the opportunity to showcase his skills alongside his idol – and certainly proved he was capable of mixing it with superstars of the sport.
“It’s an amazing experience – he’s (Langlands) awesome,” Speers said.
The ILT Festival of Speed continues on December 8 and 9 with New Zealand’s best riders