Westley Gough is elated to have earned a place in BikeNZ's squad for next week's UCI World Cup track cycling event in London, but knows the hard work is only just starting.
The 23-year-old Waipukurau rider beat national individual pursuit champion Peter Latham for the final place in the men's team pursuit quartet yesterday, replacing Jesse Sergent, who is unavailable with his professional road team commitments.
Gough, who missed selection in New Zealand's squad for the World Cup round in the Colombian city of Cali last December, was delighted to have fought his way back and said his omission had served as powerful motivation.
Gough was one of the standout performers at last week's track cycling nationals at Invercargill's velodrome, bagging seconds in the 4000m individual pursuit, 1000m time trial and points race.
He was rapt to join the Oceania winning trio of Sam Bewley, Marc Ryan and Aaron Gate in the men's team pursuit and was determined to help make an impact and push his selection case for April's world championships in Melbourne and the London Olympics in July.
"It's been really tough selection-wise over the last few months with everyone pushing for spots. It's always been my goal to work my way back and to get in the team is really exciting," Gough said.
"I'm looking forward to riding with the boys and hopefully doing a great ride in London."
With BikeNZ taking just nine riders in the men's squad for the London Olympics later in the year, competition for places among the riders is fierce.
The standard of Kiwi track riders is as formidable as ever and Gough said the cut-throat nature of racing and battle for spots brought out the best in everyone.
"We're all very good friends and it's definitely very competitive. At the end of the day, we just show up to the track, and try and ride as quick as possible.
"We push each other along and and that brings out the best performances. New Zealand's performances at the last Olympics (for track cycling) was superb and this time around, I think we'll be up another level."
Gough was a member of the New Zealand team pursuit, which won bronze at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, riding in the team's preliminary events, before making way for Hayden Roulston to join the team in the final. He would dearly love to book a ticket to London and said competing at a second Olympic Games would be a special milestone.
"It's been a big goal ever since Beijing and I've been working hard towards it. It would mean a lot of make the team."
Gough and BikeNZ's 15-strong squad for the UCI World Cup in London go into camp in Invercargill today before leaving for England at the weekend.
The BikeNZ team for the London World Cup on February 16-19 is: Endurance, men: Marc Ryan (Timaru), Sam Bewley (Rotorua), Aaron Gate (Auckland), Westley Gough (Waipukurau), Shane Archbold (Timaru). Coach: Tim Carswell. Women: Alison Shanks (Dunedin), Jaime Nielsen (Hamilton), Lauren Ellis (Hinds), Joanne Kiesanowski (Christchurch). Coach: Dayle Cheatley. Sprint, men: Eddie Dawkins (Invercargill), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Sam Webster (Auckland), Simon van Velthooven (Palmerston North). Coach: Justin Grace. Women: Natasha Hansen (Invercargill), Katie Schofield (Dunedin). Coach Stu MacDonald
Story courtesy of The Southland Times