Some of New Zealand’s leading cyclists will get a baptism of fire when they return to track competition across the Tasman tomorrow, including six Southland elite and under 19 riders.
Nine endurance track riders will compete in two UCI Category 1 meets in Adelaide which have attracted extraordinary international interest along with the best from Australia.
The meets are mandatory for all track cycling nations wishing to compete at the world cup and world championship competitions, with each carrying modest qualifying points ultimately to the Rio Olympics.
However 10 nations, that include several world and Olympic champions, have descended on Adelaide for the dual two-day competitions.
There is also special racing for the best under-19 riders from both sides of the Tasman, including the inaugural Anzac Cup test clash on Friday sandwiched between the Category 1 events.
Pieter Bulling, one of the world champion team pursuit, and fellow Southlander Cameron Karwowski will compete in the omnium competition before they head to Europe to join the rest of the men’s endurance track group based in Belgium after their strong showing at the An Post RAS Tour of Ireland.
The women’s team is anchored by double Olympian Lauren Ellis and world championship teammate Racquel Sheath with some younger emerging riders in the women’s ranks.
The full Australian track team will compete led by world and Olympic champions Anna Meares, Kaarle McCulloch, Shame Perkins and Annette Edmondson.
There is a full strength squad from China competing led by world champion and multi Olympic medallist Shuang Guo, Hong Kong with London Olympic medallist Way Sze Lee, Glasgow Commonwealth sprint medallist Kian Emadi with Great Britain, triple world medallist Aziz Awang with Malaysia as well as riders from Canada and USA.
The Category One events comprise sprint, keirin and omnium competition while the under-19 riders compete in scratch, keirin, elimination, sprint and points races.
The Anzac Cup comprises competition in team pursuit and team sprint as well as elimination, keirin and scratch races, with heats in the morning and finals at night.
It has been developed by Australia, the strongest junior country in recent years, and New Zealand to offer important development racing opportunities as an alternative when the juniors track world championship is located in more remote venues.
The New Zealand riders are:
Endurance, men: Pieter Bulling (Invercargill), Cameron Karwowski (Invercargill). Women: Alysha Keith (Dunedin), Holly Edmondston (Waimate), Liz Steel (Christchurch), Lauren Ellis (Hinds), Racquel Sheath (Cambridge), Nina Wollaston (Auckland).
Sprint: Daniel Rafferty (Tinwald).
Under-19 endurance, men: Connor Brown (Christchurch), Hugo Jones (Christchurch), Max Jones (Christchurch), Lachlan McGregor (Dunedin), Tom Sexton (Invercargill), Campbell Stewart (Palmerston North). Women: Bryony Botha (Auckland), Michaela Drummond (Palmerston North), Madeleine Park (Auckland), Holly White (Auckland).
Sprint, men: Hamish Beadle (Invercargill), Liam Brown (Palmerston North), Lewis Eccles (Taupo), Bradly Knipe (Invercargill). Women: Olivia Podmore (Christchurch), Emma Cumming (Invercargill).
Coaches: Dayle Cheatley, Ross Machejefski, Matt Shallcrass, Jon Andrews.
Staff: Ollie Harnett (mechanic), Jessica Massey (manager), Mark Harris (physiotherapist), Justin Evans (sports scientist), Graeme Hunn (Development Manager).
Caption: Pieter Bulling leads the men’s team pursuit on their way to the world title earlier this year.
Image courtesy Guy Swarbrick