The second coming of Hayden Roulston was the dominant headline from four days of outstanding track racing as the Oceania championship came to an end at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome in Invercargill.
Roulston, making his first serious return to the boards since the 2008 Olympics, claimed titles in the team pursuit and individual pursuit before helping Aaron Gate to the elite men’s points race title in the final event of the championship.
While there’s still plenty of work to do before the 34-year-old can break his way into New Zealand’s world champion team pursuit lineup for the Rio Olympics in 300 days’ time, anyone who saw the commitment he showed in Invercargill would be loathe to bet against him.
New Zealand men’s endurance coach Tim Carswell was excited about what the double medallist from Beijing seven years ago could produce in coming months.
“Obviously the goal is to allow him the opportunity to continue that progression towards the world championships in February,” Carswell said.
Gate showed what good form he’s in at the moment by taking three laps on the field during the elite men’s points race, with Roulston winning silver and Luke Mudgway edging out Josh Haggerty for the bronze medal in the final sprint.
Australian riders flexed their muscles in the sprint events on the final day.
Matthew Glaetzer, fresh from winning the sprint the previous night, powered his way to victory in the men’s keirin ahead of Olympic bronze medallist Simon van Velthooven and Mitchell Bullen.
Kaarle McCulloch claimed her third gold medal of the championship, adding the women’s keirin title to the team sprint and 500m time trial.
She didn’t have things all her own way, having to come from a ride down in the best of three final against compatriot Stephanie Morton.
New Zealand’s Natasha Hansen was also taken to three rides before winning the bronze medal ride-off against Holly Takos (Aus).
Cam Karwowski and Nick Kergozou won a thrilling elite and under 19 men’s madison with Kergozou coming from five lengths back on the final lap to steal the race from the Australian combination of Sam Welsford and Jackson Law, with Mudgway and Tom Sexton taking the bronze.
Australia’s Georgia Baker won the points race to confirm overall victory in the elite women’s omnium by 28 points from New Zealander Kirstie James, with Elissa Wundersitz (Aus) third.
Bradly Knipe completed a standout championship with his fourth gold medal coming in the under 19 men’s keirin.
The Southlander had earlier won the team sprint, 1000m time trial and sprint.
He showed plenty of authority in adding the keirin, his favourite event, to the list.
Emily Shearman won the individual pursuit, elimination and points race to take out the under 19 women’s omnium.
A second-placed finish in the points race saw Australia’s Chloe Heffernan take silver on countback from New Zealand’s Ellesse Andrews.
The attention now moves to the start of the Track cycling World Cup series, with the highlight being the second round at the Avantidrome in Cambridge in December, the first time the event has been staged in New Zealand.
Day four results:
U19 men’s keirin: Bradly Knipe (NZ) 1; Hamish Beadle (NZ) 2; Kye Bonser (Aus) 3.
Elite men’s keirin: Matthew Glaetzer (Aus) 1; Simon van Velthooven (NZ) 2; Mitchell Bullen (Aus) 3.
U19 women’s omnium: Emily Shearman (NZ) 211 points 1; Chloe Heffernan (Aus) 198 2; Ellesse Andrews (NZ) 198 3.
Elite women’s sprint: Kaarle McCulloch (Aus) 1; Stephanie Morton (Aus) 2; Natasha Hansen (NZ) 3.
Elite womens omnium: Georgia Baker (Aus) 230 points 1; Kirstie James (NZ) 202 2; Elissa Wunderlitz (Aus) 183 3.
U19 women’s 10km points race: Emily Shearman (NZ) 1; Emma Cumming (NZ) 2; Holly Blakely (NZ) 3.
Elite women’s 20km points race: Macey Stewart (Aus) 1; Georgia Baker (Aus) 2; Alysha Keith (NZ) 3.
U19 men’s 20km points race: Josh Toovey (Aus) 1; Magnus Tuxen Rosing (NZ) 2; Hayden Strong (NZ) 3.
Elite men’s 30km points race: Aaron Gate (NZ) 1; Hayden Roulston (NZ) 2; Luke Mudgway (NZ) 3.
CAPTION: Australia's Matthew Glaetzer on the way to winning the elite men's keirin final at the Oceania track cycling championship at Invercargill's SIT Zero Fees Velodrome.
Photo courtesy Eugene Bonthuys