The Cycling New Zealand team is well settled ready to take on the might of Europe when the UCI Junior World Track Cycling Championships gets underway in Switzerland on Wednesday late evening (NZ time).
The 13-strong New Zealand team takes on 327 riders from 39 nations in the five-day competition staged at the UCI Headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland.
Head coach Jon Andrews has a young team with only two riders back from last year, in a rebuilding phase for the programme, with the team losing Auckland’s Jenna Merrick after she was injured on a training ride following a collision with a vehicle just hours before she was due to fly out.
The level of competition in Europe, especially among the junior track programmes, is increasing significantly as nations realise its importance as they build track capability for Olympic competition going forward, said Andrews.
“The competition in Italy last year was very impressive with many nations ramping up their junior programmes. Russia and Denmark were extremely strong in the junior men and Italy in the junior women last year.
“We have held our own with our four medals last year and this is a largely new team with a number of them eligible to compete in 2019 as well which is very exciting looking ahead.”
Success is more likely from individual events with Southland’s Corbin Strong the only rider returning from either male or female pursuit teams from last year.
Eight riders from the New Zealand junior teams in 2016 and 2017 competed at the Commonwealth Games this year where four of them won medals, and therefore the accent with this year’s team is to rebuild for the future.
Strong, 18, will lead the way after finishing third in the team pursuit last year, and goes in as the current Oceania junior omnium, points and Madison champion.
Levin’s Thomas Garbett is the team sprinter, winning all three disciplines at the national championships, after he had to withdraw from the team last year.
Other national titleholders in the team include Nelson’s Finn Fisher-Black, the junior individual pursuit winner, and Taupo’s Kiaan Watts, the scratch race champion.
The women’s team is led by Nelson sprinter Shaane Fulton, who impressed in Italy last year finishing sixth in the keirin, seventh in the time trial and eighth in sprint, coming in this time as the Oceania sprint champion.
Waikato’s Ally Wollaston, 17, leads the endurance group as the national junior pursuit, points, scratch and omnium champion. She is joined by Hamilton’s McKenzie Milne, 17, the Oceania scratch and Madison winner, and Christchurch’s Annemarie Lipp.
The opening day will see qualifying for the team pursuit for males and females and Ally Wollaston in the women’s scratch race. The evening programme includes qualifying for the team sprint with Fulton pairing up with Southland’s Sophie-Leigh Bloxham, the national junior time trial winner.
The team is:
Female, Endurance: Ally Wollaston (Cambridge), McKenzie Milne (Hamilton), Samantha Donnelly (Christchurch), Annmarie Lipp (Christchurch).
Sprint: Shaane Fulton (Nelson), Sophie-Leigh Bloxham (Invercargill).
Male, Endurance: Bailey O’Donnell (Christchurch), Corbin Strong (Invercargill), Finn Fisher-Black (Nelson), George Jackson (Wellington), Jarred Treymane (Cambridge), Kiaan Watts (Taupo). Sprint: Thomas Garbett (Levin).
Photo courtesy Stuff