A nine-strong BikeNZ track cycling team, including a trio of elite Southlanders, will contest three Tier One UCI events in Adelaide starting tonight.
The squad, including five returning from a European campaign, are chasing further points to qualify for the UCI World Cup series, which in turn qualifies riders and teams for the World Championships, and from there the Rio Olympics.
Australia has grouped its three Tier One events into five days of racing at the Adelaide Super-Drome, which is the national high performance base for track cycling.
The elite men’s sprint team includes Matt Archibald (Invercargill), Eddie Dawkins (Invercargill), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) and Olympic medallist Simon van Velthooven (Palmerston North), women’s riders Lauren Ellis Hinds), Jaime Nielsen (Hamilton)and Katie Schofield (Dunedin) while Shane Archbold (Timaru) and Pieter Bulling (Invercargill) have returned from Europe in search of much needed qualifying points.
Auckland sprinter Sam Webster has been rested after picking up an injury during his podium performances at the Tier One event in Paris last week.
“It’s an opportunity for us to collect some important points for World Cup qualifying,” said BikeNZ head coach Dayle Cheatley.
“The men’s sprint group have some useful points but need more, while the others are starting from scratch and will need to get some runs on the board.”
Cheatley said he expects the Australians to be firing on all cylinders this week.
“They have put all their eggs in one basket in grouping all their qualifying events into one week. So they have prepared just for this and no doubt will be fully primed to perform and will set the benchmark for us this week.”
The series has attracted more than 100 riders from eight countries and includes the return of London Olympic gold medallist Anna Meares.
“I'm a little bit nervous and I know I'm going to be quite rusty, but I'm glad I've got something at home even though it's still an international meet,” said Meares.
Tonight’s opening action includes the men’s and women’s keirin and the first day of the men’s and women’s omnium.
CAPTION: Eddie Dawkins in action at Paris last week, will be riding in the UCI Tier One events in Adelaide starting tonight.