New Zealand are through to the medal ride in the men’s team pursuit on the first day of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Melbourne today.
The quartet of Aaron Gate, Sam Bewley, Westley Gough and Marc Ryan clocked 3:59.156 in the 4000m team pursuit and will meet Russia in the bronze medal ride at the Hisense Arena tonight.
World champions Australia take on the Olympic champions Great Britain in the gold medal ride.
The New Zealand team, without top pursuiter Jesse Sergent who is on duties with his pro road team Radioshak Nissan Trek, were the fourth to last team to ride, and produced the fastest time of the night to that point.
They sped through the 2km halfway mark in two minutes flat with Gate and Gough putting in back-to-back stints of a half and a half. Marc Ryan dropped off with three laps to go and the team faded slightly over the final two laps.
“It was a satisfactory first ride. They were aiming to go slightly quicker and looked very good over the first 3km,” said BikeNZ High Performance Director, Mark Elliott.
“I am sure the boys will be fired up now and will believe they can beat the Russians if they can execute tonight.”
The Russians, much vaunted before the championships, also faded after they lost a rider at the 3km mark to clock 3:59.290, slower than the kiwis.
Great Britain set the standard when they clocked an impressive 3:54.485 and while Australia were under that schedule at the 3km mark, they slowed to finish on 3:54.654 but ensured two outstanding and close medal rides later tonight.
Results, men’s 4000m team pursuit qualifying: Great Britain 3:54.485, 1; Australia 3:54.654, 2; New Zealand 3:59.156, 3; Russian 3:59.290, 4.