Cycling New Zealand believes its track cyclists are on target as they progress towards next year’s Rio Olympics.
The team finished a successful world championship at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines near Paris today in equal fourth place on the table with four medals but importantly on top of the world in their two targeted events for Rio.
While they are taking time to pat themselves on the back, head coach Dayle Cheatley said riders, coaches and support staff are firmly focussed on the improvements they need to make to achieve their major goals.
There were no additions to the medal haul today with Sam Webster finishing sixth in sprint competition and Racquel Sheath 10th in the gruelling six-event omnium.
The team finished with a gold in the men’s team pursuit, silver in the men’s team sprint and keirin to Eddie Dawkins and bronze in the 1000m time trial to Matt Archibald, with a record-equalling fifth medal separated only on countback for teenager Regan Gough in the points race.
“In our two targeted events – the men’s team sprint and team pursuit - we are on top of our game. We produced the two fastest times in the world this year in each,” said Cycling New Zealand head coach, Dayle Cheatley.
“I am over the moon with how our women’s team pursuit has performed her to finish fourth after being away from international world championship competition for a couple of years.
“Aaron (Gate) is a truly world class rider and on top of his game in all components of the omnium he is going to be lethal. We will be working with Gatey in the next 18 months to be a real contender in Rio.
“Racquel (Sheath) has made big gains in the timed events and we will be looking to further improve these and work with her on the bunch races with her.
“We must keep looking at ways to improve so we can stay ahead. We won’t rest on our results here. They are good results but we will be looking to go further next year.”
Webster lost his quarterfinal clash in the sprints with Russian Denis Dmitriev in two rides, the second a needed a photo finish to split the pair. The Kiwi went on to finish second in the ride-off for fifth to eighth placings while the Russian eventually lost the final to French star Gregory Bauge in front of a fervent home crowd.
“Looking back there are only a few changes I could have made. I implemented some really good moves and executed all the opportunities. In hindsight I am proud of how I rode,” Webster said.
“We have come into these worlds with the best condition we have ever had. In the team sprint we were so dominant. We put 0.3s into the French in their home worlds, we can’t measure how much a home worlds means but they couldn’t match us.
“It is a step in the right direction. We can take a lot of positives from this week, so I think we did a lot of things right.
“We want to find more time. We want that team sprint sea level world record and we won’t be resting on our laurels.”
In the second day of the women’s omnium competition, Sheath was 14th in the 500m time trial in 37.029. 15th in a personal best 14.550s in the flying lap and finished superbly to be second in the points race, moving her to 10th overall at her first world championships for the 20 year old.
Cheatley said a key to their continued success if the world behind the scenes.
“We have a great team of coaches and support staff around us. It is important for the athletes to see the staff working well together and working hard for their outcomes. We have a great environment and I want to keep our culture alive and positive.”
Men Sprint quarterfinals: Denis Dmitriev (RUS) bt Sam Webster (NZL) 2-0, Gregory Bauge (FRA) bt Francois Pervis (FRA) 2-1, Quentin LaFargue (FRA) bt Hersony Canelon (VEN) 2-0, Jeffrey Hoogland (NED) bt Matthew Gleatzer) 2-0. Semifinals: Dmitriev bt Hoogland 2-1, Bauge bt LaFarge 2-0. Fifth-8th: Glaetzer 5, Webster 6, Pervis 7, Canelon 8. Gold: Bauge bt Dmitriev 2-0. Bronze: LaFarge bt Hoogland 2-1.
Women keirin, final: Anna Meares (AUS) 1, Shanne Braspennincx (NED) 2, Lisandra Rodriguez (CUB) 3.
Women omnium, day 2: 500m Time Trial: Annette Edmondson (AUS) 35.064, 1; Marles Garcia (CUB) 35.103, 2; Tamara Balabolina (RUS) 35.650, 3. Also: Racquel Sheath (NZL) 37.029, 14. Flying Lap: Edmondson 14.024, 1; Kirsten Wild (NED) 14.116, 2; Laura Trott (GBR) 14.154, 3. Also: Sheath 14.550, 15. Points: Sarah Hammer (USA) 22 points, 1; Sheath 21, 2; Marlies Garcia (CUB) 21, 3.
Overall: Edmondson 192, 1; Trott 176, 2; Wild 175, 3. Also: Sheath 117, 10.
Men Madison: France 21 points, 1; Italy 20, 2; Belgium 15, 3. Also: NZL (Pieter Bulling and Regan Gough) DNF.
Medal standing: Australia 11 medals (4 gold, 4 silver, 3 bronze), France 7 (5 gold, 2 bronze), Germany 7 (3 gold, 1 silver, 3 bronze), New Zealand 4 (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) equal with Russia (2 gold, 2 bronze), Netherlands (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze).
CAPTION: Sam Webster in action in the sprint, and Racquel Sheath in the omnium at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships.
Photos courtesy: Guy Swarbrick/Cycling New Zealand