Date: Friday, 04 March 2022

Masters cyclists from across New Zealand descended on Invercargill for the first stand-alone Masters Track National Championships, which started on Thursday at the SIT ZeroFees Velodrome at ILT Stadium Southland.

Day one saw competition take place in the individual pursuits and team sprints, and there was some exceptionally close and exciting racing.

The national record in the masters men 4 individual pursuit was bettered not once, but three times during the two sessions. Andrew Beale (Canterbury) improved the previous mark in the morning’s qualifying rounds, only to have Tim Pawson (Auckland) reclaim his record again in the bronze medal ride in the evening session. However, Beale, who was racing for gold, was not content to claim gold and lose the record, as he went on to post a 1.5 second improvement on Pawson’s new mark, recording a time of 2:20.515.

Among the Southlanders, Neil Familton came ever so close to bettering his own national record in the masters men 6 individual pursuit, falling only a fraction of a second shy of doing so as he stormed to the gold medal.

Sonya Barton also claimed gold in the masters women 4 individual pursuit, with Nichole Saunders claiming silver in the masters women 1 individual pursuit.

Southlanders were also in action in the masters women team sprint, with the combination of Nicola Stevens and Ruth Whelan qualifying for the gold medal ride, and Barton and Saunders for the bronze medal ride. In the finals, Barton and Saunders were beaten to bronze by the Waikato-Bay of Plenty team of Rachael Sardelich and Julie Graddon. In the gold medal ride, Stevens and Whelan would face an uphill battle against a Canterbury team of Jacqui Whiting and Fiona Bennetts that had qualified fastest in the morning’s session. Stevens, the starter for the team, improved on her time from the qualifying round, but the team was still just over half a second down on Canterbury as she pulled up to launch Whelan into the final lap. A storming ride from Whelan saw her erase the deficit, as Southland claimed the gold by less than .04 seconds.

Friday will see riders compete in the time trial, Keirin, and scratch races, with racing concluding on Saturday with the match sprints, elimination races, and points races.

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