Cycling Southland riders dominated the first day of the Vantage Elite and U19 Track National Championships in Cambridge on Thursday.
The team claimed four gold, two silver, and three bronze to lead the points shield standings at the end of day one.
Gold medal performances came from Kirstie James in the women elite individual pursuit, Nick Kergozou in the men elite 1000m time trial, Mitchel Fitzsimons in the men U19 scratch race, and newcomer Connor Douglas in the men para-cycling 1000m time trial, with James and Kergozou both producing personal best times on their way to their respective titles.
Silver medals came courtesy of Rhylee Akeroyd in the women U19 500m time trial, and Mitchel Fitzsimons in the men U19 1000m time trial, while bronze medals went to Tyla Green in the women U19 500m time trial and women U19 scratch race, and to Sophie-Leigh Bloxham in the women elite 500m time trial.
James held off fellow Vantage Elite teammate Jaime Nielsen to win the 3000m individual pursuit final, storming home in the second half of the final to win in 3:26.070.
The pair were even through the first 1000m before James’ relentless pace gave her the advantage, eventually taking two seconds off her previous best with Nielsen pleased with her effort to be runner-up in 3:30.665.
Nina Wollaston set a personal best to claim the bronze from fellow Waikato Bay of Plenty rider McKenzie Milne.
“Personally it was a pretty good ride for me,” said James who retained her national title. “To execute a ride like that at track nationals is so satisfying. It was a solid PB and a smooth and consistent ride which is something I have been working on for a while.
“I can only peak once a year which will be the world championships so to produce a time like that out of peak form shows that I am on the right track.”
Gate and Kergozou have both come through a tough four-day road race at the New Zealand Cycle Classic, but still were able to convert back on the boards at the Avantidrome.
Southland’s Kergozou showed his real speed for an endurance rider in winning the 1000m time trial in 1:00.940 ahead of Zac Williams (Auckland) and omnium world champion Campbell Stewart (West Coast North Island).
After coming out of the New Zealand Cycle Classic on the road, Kergozou impressed with a strong ride.
Gate had a tight battle early on against exciting young Canterbury rider Josh Scott, after both rode personal bests of 4:16 in qualifying for the 4000m individual pursuit.
They were even at the halfway mark in the final before Gate’s bigger gear made the difference, winning in 4:15.421, which was nearly five seconds under his previous best.
“It has worked for me well in the past to rip off a good IP coming off the road. It has been four years since I have done an individual pursuit so to come out to rip over five seconds off my PB is pretty rewarding.
“I wanted to do the IP as a bit of a benchmark for myself and it is good to see the form is good and hopefully I can keep building on that sort of power and speed heading towards next month’s world championships which I am excited about.”
Scott’s fellow Canterbury teammate Hugo Jones won the bronze medal, taking five seconds off his previous best to clock 4:19.693.
Double junior world champion Laurence Pithie (Canterbury) showed his class with an emphatic win in the 1000m time trial in a slick 1:03,712, with fellow Cantabrian Jenna Borthwick claiming the junior women’s 500m time trial.
It proved a double for Borthwick who went solo to claim the 7.5km scratch race from fellow Cantabrian Charlotte Spurway, but Pithie could not quite repeat, pipped on the line by Southland’s Mitchel Fitzsimons in a sprint final of the 10km scratch race
The championships continue until Sunday. The event is livestreamed for the afternoon sessions on Sky Sport NZ Next Youtube channel https://tinyurl.com/ur24rz2
Women 500m time trial: Shaane Fulton (Tasman) 35.132, 1; Jaymie King (Waikato BOP) 36.732, 2; Sophie-Leigh Bloxham (Southland) 37.197, 3.
Men 1000m time trial: Nick Kergozou (Southland) 1:00.940, 1; Zac Williams (Auckland) 1:01.712, 2; Campbell Stewart (WCNI) 1:02.053, 3.
Men 4000m individual pursuit: Aaron Gate (Auckland) 4:15.421, 1; Josh Scott (Canterbury) 4:21.662, 2; Hugo Jones (Canterbury) 4:19.693, 3.
Women 3000m individual pursuit: Kirstie James (Waikato BOP) 3:26.070, 1; Jaime Nielsen (Waikato BOP) 3:30.665, 2; Nina Wollaston (Waikato BOP) 3:33.645, 3.
Women 500m time trial: Jenna Borthwick (Canterbury) 36.580, 1; Rhylee Akeroyd (Southland) 37.290, 2; Tyla Green (Southland) 37.412, 3.
Men 1000m time trial: Laurence Pithie (Canterbury) 1:03.712, 1; Mitchel Fitzsimons (Southland) 1:04.118, 2; Zakk Patterson (Waikato BOP) 1:04.203, 3.
Women7.5km scratch race: Jenna Borthwick (Canterbury) 1, Charlotte Spurway (Canterbury) 2, Tyla Green (Southland) 3.
Men 10km Scratch Race: Mitchel Fitzsimons (Southland) 1, Laurence Pithie (Canterbury) 2, Zakk Patterson (Southland) 3.
CAPTION: Kirstie James celebrates her medal; Nick Kergozou is all effort in winning the 1000m time trial on the opening day of the Vantage Track National Championships. (Credit: Dianne Manson Photos)