While the Vantage New Zealand Elite team added the glamour, a number of exciting young cycling talent emerged from the National Track Series at the Avantidrome in Cycling New Zealand’s first post-Covid competition.
The National Track Series is a three-event competition open for riders from Under-17 to Under-23, with two rounds in Cambridge and the final stop at Invercargill. The series has proven a significant catalyst for young riders to develop increased tactical and technical awareness as well as attend educational, coaching and other workshops.
Organisers also made provision for some Tokyo Olympic hopefuls, who have only recently returned to group training at the Avantidrome.
Sam Webster, Callum Saunders, world champion Corbin Strong, Ally Wollaston, Sam Dakin, Rushlee Buchanan, Holly Edmondston, Campbell Stewart all enjoyed successes over the three days. There were international riders also prominent with Mark Stewart (GBR), the former European under-23 and Commonwealth Games winner, and USA champion Adrian Hegyvary, husband of Rushlee Buchanan, both gaining wins.
The focus was on the 100 age riders from throughout New Zealand who impressed in their first competitive outings over a range of both traditional and novel racing events, as well as in the workshops.
The overall B Grade female winner was 15-year-old Christchurch rising star, Amelia Sykes, who took out wins in the 7.5km points race, elimination and tempo finals.
The former ice speed skater said the competition had been invaluable.
“This series has been massive. I have learned new things, getting back into track again and building my base, and it has been a nice atmosphere and nice community here. Everyone is trying to partner up, work hard and have fun, and learn new skills,” said Sykes.
Sykes turns 16 this week as she heads to Hawkes Bay for the Vantage Age Group Road National Championships starting on Friday.
Also impressive was former Canterbury rider Jackson Ogle, the former school rugby prospect who is developing as an impressive young sprinter, finishing second in the A Grade Derby, second behind multi-world champion Sam Webster in the sprint final after qualifying third fastest, and second with Nick Kergozou in the team sprint.
“The track series is a first for me and a cool opportunity to prove myself because it has just been head-down training. You only race a few times and if that does not go well then it is all the coaches see, so this series is a good opportunity to show your talents,” said Ogle.
“I love the challenge. Track cycling has been 10 times harder than I ever expected. I love doing it because it is so different than the other sports.
“While it is hard, the life-lessons you learn you can’t replicate anywhere else – so much sacrifice and discipline. But you have this one goal and you have to put everything in to it – so it takes a lot of discipline.”
Other successful riders in the series include sprint winners Webster and Tahlay Christie; A Grade endurance winners Ally Wollaston and Jack Carswell; B-Grade endurance winners Sykes and Jaxson Russell.
The second round of the series, also at the Avantidrome in Cambridge, is scheduled for 11-13 September, with the final round taking place at the SIT ZeroFees Velodrome in Invercargill from 9-11 October.