Waimate’s Dylan Kennett and Southland’s Matt Archibald put their hands up for selection to the New Zealand team for next month’s UCI track cycling World Championships.
The pair proved outstanding on the opening day of the Skoda Track Cycling Nationals at the Avantidrome in Cambridge tonight.
The 20 year old Kennett was in superb form to defend his title in the men’s 4000m individual pursuit and then finish third in the 1000m time trial won by Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Archibald.
It proved a double in the pursuit with the outstanding Jaime Nielsen from the Waikato claiming her second successive crown in the women’s 3000m individual pursuit on the first night of finals.
Southland sprinter Steph McKenzie, who won four titles at the championships last year, claimed the one she missed in 2014 when she took out the 500m time trial.
The championships double as the final trial before selection to the world championships in Paris next month.
Kennett took time out late last year after struggling to find form following the Commonwealth Games, but came back with a vengeance today.
“It was 18 months of frustrations with niggling injuries for me and after the Commonwealth Games I just struggled mentally and physically and had a bit of a meltdown,” Kennett said.
“The break was good for me and I’ve come back in the best form of my life. This was my chance to show what I have and put my hand up for selection for the team pursuit.”
Kennett clocked 4:21.19 in qualifying this morning, which was more than five seconds faster than his previous best set at Glasgow. He had to fight hard in the final against 21 year old Cantabrian Alex Frame, who set a fast early pace. The South Canterbury rider produced a mature ride, to dominate the final quarter of the journey to win in 4:21.871.
“To come here and set a big PB this morning and back it up with another 4:21 ride tonight is great.”
Frame also impressed in his first elite track championships, after two years on the professional road circuit in Europe, last year riding for the development team of World Tour outfit, Giant-Shimano.
The super talented young rider has decided to take two years out of his road career and focus on the track, hoping to earn a place for the Rio Olympics.
“I am really committed to the track through to Rio. It would be great to make the team for the worlds and it is awesome that they have given all the riders a good chance to prove themselves.”
Commonwealth and world championship medallist Marc Ryan showed his experience, pushing hard early to dominate the ride for bronze against his national teammate Piet Bulling (Southland).
Archibald was pipped at Glasgow by Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallist Simon van Velthooven, but swapped placings tonight, winning in 1:01.314. Van Velthooven was less than 0.1s behind in second and Kennett third.
“We have five top riders and probably only four will go to Rio. We are all good friends but we push each other every day in training,” said Archibald.
“I train against world champions every day and the time trial is a good event for me to iron out some of my deficiencies.”
He is looking to show his improvement in the sprint competition later in the meet.
McKenzie, like Archibald, is thriving on the friendship and competitive spirit in the women’s programme with Katie Schofield and Natasha Hansen, who moved into the programme recently.
“Natasha has been my training partner for a long time and Katie is really riding well. We are pushing each other. I was really happy with that tonight and I hope my coach is happy to.” McKenzie said.
Titleholder Nielsen dominated qualifying for the women’s 3000m individual pursuit, clocking 3:35.33, just one second outside her best set in Glasgow.
She had a slender advantage over fellow Waikato and New Zealand teammate Rushlee Buchanan at the 1000m mark in the final, but gradually eased clear to win in 3:35.234, faster than her morning effort.
It marks a strong start for the key ride in the team pursuit combination, but Nielsen was typically under-stated.
“It was a really good ride in the final and I was pleased with it. I’m not getting too carried away because I’ve got a really busy schedule with the scratch race, points race and team pursuit.”
Buchanan was second in 3:38.399 while Auckland’s Georgia Williams claimed the bronze in 3:38.221 over Lauren Ellis, with the finals comprising the current women’s team pursuit quartet.
In the under-19 competition Olivia Podmore (Canterbury) retained her title in the 500m time trial in a new national record in a close battle with Southland’s Emma Cumming, while Taupo’s Lewis Eccles won the 1000m time trial ahead of Manawatu’s Campbell Stewart.
His West Coast North Island teammate Greg Denholm soloed his way to victory in the junior men’s 10km scratch race.
The championships continue until Sunday.
3000m individual pursuit, gold medal: Jaime Nielsen (Waikato Bay of Plenty) 3:35.234, 1; Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato Bay of Plenty) 3:38.399, 2; Bronze medal: Georgia Williams (Auckland) 3:38.221, 3; Lauren Ellis (Mid South Canterbury) 3:41.231, 4.
Qualifying: Nielsen 3:35.33, 1; Buchanan 3:37.25, 2; Williams 3:37.51, 3; Ellis 3:38.78, 4.
500m time trial: Stephanie McKenzie (Southland) 34.971, 1; Katie Schofield (Otago) 34.538, 2; Natasha Hansen (Southland) 35.138, 3.
4000m Individual pursuit, gold medal: Dylan Kennett (Mid South Canterbury) 4:21.871, 1; Alex Frame (Canterbury) 4:25.344, 2; Bronze medal: Marc Ryan (Mid South Canterbury) 3, Piet Bulling (Southland) caught, 4.
Qualifying: Kennett 4:21.254, 1; Frame 4:23.920, 2; Ryan 4:23.920, 3; Piet Bulling 4:25.568, 4.
1000m time trial: Matt Archibald (Southland) 1:01.314, 1; Simon van Velthooven (West Coast North Island) 1:01.401, 2; Dylan Kennett (Mid South Canterbury) 1:01.868, 3.
500m time trial: Olivia Podmore (Canterbury) 35.859, 1 (NZ Record); Emma Cumming (Southland) 36.133, 2; Michaela Drummond (West Coast North Island) 38.115, 3.
Junior men, 1000m time trial: Lewis Eccles (Waikato Bay of Plenty) 1:05.477, 1; Campbell Stewart (West Coast North island) 1:05.700, 2; Bradly Knipe (Southland) 1:06.475, 3.
10km scratch race: Chris Denholm (West Coast North Island) 1, Max Jones (Canterbury) 2, Hugo Jones (Canterbury) 3.
Paracyling women's 500m time trial: Kate Horan (Wellington) 39.808, 1; Victoria Baldwin (Southland) 58:474, 2.
CAPTION: Matt Archibald in action on way to victory in the 1000m time trial.
Photo courtesy Dianne Manson.
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.