UCI OCEANIA TRACK CYCLING CHAMPIONSHIPS – NZ WRAP DAY 1
New Zealand’s World Champion team sprint trio produced a stunning early season performance to win their final on the first night of the UCI Oceania Track Championships in Cambridge.
The trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins broke the New Zealand New All Comers record with a time of 42.859, which was only 03.seconds off their best set at the Rio Olympics – and for a time the Olympic record.
It was one of three All Comers records set on a world class opening at the Avantidrome, including the Australian women’s sprint pairing of Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton and a superb display from the Australian men’s team pursuit.
After Webster led off in the morning heat, the team sprint world champions reverted to their proven formula in the final, with Mitchell – the fastest first lap exponent in the world at the last Olympics - providing his customary cracking start on the way to an excellent early-season performance.
“That’s in our top five times ever so to achieve that so early in the season is pretty exciting for us,” said Dawkins. ‘We have got a busy schedule. We are on the plane on Saturday for our third World Cup in Canada and then we prepare for the world champs which are only a couple of weeks before the Commonwealth Games.”
Webster, who has rejoined the team after a three-month stint racing in Japan, was delighted to be back with his mates.
“It feels special for us to be riding together again. We’ve got a special bond and we love racing with each other – we know one another so well.”
He said they will need to continue to improve through to the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April next year.
“There’s a lot of depth and a lot of changes in the Commonwealth. Last time it was basically Australia and us but I think there is going to be a lot of new competition and we will need to be at our best.”
It was the first time the trio had competed since their world championship victory earlier in the year.
“It’s a privilege to race at home in front of friends and family and to be able to do it in our rainbow jerseys is really special. Today’s result is a great confidence boost for us knowing what is ahead of us,” said Mitchell.
The fans were treated to a brilliant performance from the Australian team pursuit quartet of current world champions Kelland O’Brien and Nicholas Yallouris, the individual pursuit world champion Jordan Kerby and three-time world champion Leigh Howard.
With massive competition for a spot in the team pursuit for the Gold Coast, they were keen to make a statement in what is their Commonwealth Games trial, with their time of 3:52.421 in the top-10 fastest time in history.
To further factor into their performance was the time taken to overtake the Kiwi team, and a mix-up when two riders were caught up, forcing Kerby to overcome a 10m gap to his teammates on the penultimate lap.
“It feels amazing. To be honest I didn't really know what to expect as I haven't done a team pursuit since April so it was a little bit daunting come here for the final and not having ridden the qualifying,” said O’Brien. “I'm really proud of the boys they executed a great ride and learned a lot.”
Earlier Olympians Morton and McCulloch impressed in winning the women’s team sprint in 32.755 after setting an All Comers record in qualifying, bettering the time of China set at the Cambridge World Cup in 2015.
They finished clear of the young Kiwi pairing of Emma Cumming and Olivia Podmore who clocked a solid 33.863.
McCulloch returned to win the women’s 500m time trial in 33.848 ahead of Podmore.
The New Zealand women’s team pursuit produced an excellent performance to clock 4:21.829, overtaking Australia in the process, to win the 4000m final.
The quartet of Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan, Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond, coming in for Kirstie James in the final, were down early but moved ahead by a second up at halfway, three seconds ahead at 3000m and caught the Australian in the finishing straight.
“We have really only got together last week and this is probably our first serious hit-out and so to produce a strong time like that at this stage of the season is really encouraging,” said Buchanan.
James returned to produce a powerful performance, putting a lap on the field, and controlling the pace to win the women’s 20km Points Race, finishing well clear of Australians Kristina Clonen and Chloe Moran.
While team pursuit world champion O’Brien (AUS) and five-time junior world champion Campbell Stewart were watching eachother in the 30kms points race, South Australia’s Joshua Harrison lapped the field twice to claim the honours. Stewart won the final double points sprint to claim second on countback.
In under-19 action it was a case of strong by name and strong by nature for Southland’s Corbin Strong, a medallist at the junior world championships, dominated the four-discipline omnium, winning the Tempo, the Elimination and the Points races to claim the title ahead of rookie George Jackson (Waikato BOP).
Australia prevailed in both Team Sprint finals; New Zealand claimed the women’s team pursuit while super-talented Nelson sprinter Shaane Fulton, who impressed at the world championships this year, claimed the 500m Time Trial in a slick 35.891s.
Tomorrow’s elite action includes the individual pursuit, women’s keirin, men’s time trial and scratch race.
The competition continues until Thursday.
Women Team Sprint: Australia Gold 32.766, 1; New Zealand (Emma Cumming, Olivia Podmore) 33.863, 2; Australia Green 34.344, 3.
Men Team Sprint: New Zealand (Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins) 42.853, 1 (All Comers Record); Australia 43.342, 2; New Zealand 2 (Bradly Knipe, Zac Williams, Jordan Castle) 44.161, 3.
Women 4000m Team Pursuit: New Zealand (Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan, Racquel Sheath, Michaela Drummond) 4:21.829, 1; Australia Gold OVL, 2; Australia Green 4:35.884, 3.
Men Team Pursuit: Australia 3:52.421, 1 (All Comers Record); New Zealand (Jared Gray, Harry Waine, Nick Kergozou, Hugo Jones) OVL, 2; Australia Blue 4:02.088, 3.
Women 500m Time Trial: Kaarle McCulloch (AUS) 33.848, 1; Olivia Podmore (NZL) 35.027, 2; Breanna Hargrave (AUS) 35.097, 3.
Women 20km Points Race: Kirstie James (NZL) 36, Kristina Clonen (AUS) 18, 2; Chloe Moran (AUS) 13.
Men 30km Points Race: Josh Harrison (South Australia) 61 points, 1; Campbell Stewart (NZL) 37, 2; Kelland O’Brien (AUS) 37, 3.
Women Team Sprint: Australia 36.529, 1; New Zealand (Sophie-Leigh Bloxham, Britney Greene) 36.649, 2; Australia 36.785, 3.
Men Team Sprint: Australia 46.237, 1; New Zealand (Conor Shearing, Angus Claasem, Patrick Clancy) no time, 2.
Women Team Pursuit: New Zealand (McKenzie Milne, Eva Parkinson, Ally Wollaston, Samantha Donnelly) 4:59.429, 1; New Zealand 2 (Emily Paterson, Annamarie Lipp, Samantha Ogle, Helena Rikiti) 5:58.905, 2.
Women 500m Time Trial: Shaane Fulton (NZL) 35.891, 1; Sophie-Leigh Bloxham (NZL) 36.394, 2; Nicole Marshall (NZL) 37.110, 3.
Men Omnium: Corbin Strong (Southland) 137, 1; George Jackson (Waikato BOP) 113, 2; Tom Lynch (NSW) 105, 3.
CAPTION: Ethan Mitchell leads his teammates Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins in the team sprint final.
The images are free for editorial use only. Credit: Dianne Manson
LIVE RESULTS: www.veloresults.com
LIVE STREAMING: www.sbi-productions.co.nz/cyclingchamps
VISION OF KEY RACES:
User Name: cyclingnz