New Zealand’s sprint cyclists have produced a stunning victory in the team sprint at the UCI World Cup in Mexico today.
The BikeNZ combination upset Olympic silver medallists France in the final at altitude in Aguascalientes, clocking a stunning 43.052 seconds which is among the top 10 times in history.
BikeNZ sprint coach Justin Grace was thrilled with the outstanding performance, which has guaranteed New Zealand a start in the world championships.
“I came here thinking the team could make the final and that we would likely meet France if we did. But to ride two performances in the low 43 seconds and back up with a 43.052 in the final was brilliant,” Grace said.
“The team looked very strong this morning in qualifying where we finished ahead of Australia and Russia in a closely fought session.”
A key was the outstanding starts from Auckland’s Ethan Mitchell who clocked 17.2 in both rides.
“What more can you say. Both of those rides were world class. Right now at this time, Ethan is probably the fastest starter anywhere.”
In a pre-arranged strategy, Grace swapped out Invercargill’s Matthew Archibald for Auckland’s Sam Webster for the final.
“We have four strong riders and we wanted to use them all. Matt rode well this morning and Sam was outstanding when he came in for the final.”
Webster, a former triple junior world champion, produced a 12.711 second lap with Invercargill’s Eddie Dawkins following with a 13.076.
“To take 0.3s off our previous best is a huge chunk of time even on this fast track at altitude. But the job is not over, as we have important qualifying in the keirin with Eddie tomorrow and Matt and Sam in sprints on Sunday.
“We need more good performances to secure spots in the world championships.”
France topped the morning qualifying in 43.066, which was more than 03.s faster than New Zealand, Australia and Russia.
The New Zealand team edged France by nearly 0.2 seconds in a superbly judged final.
“We are not getting ahead of ourselves. We will go back home after this and get back to some hard work, with the national championships in two weeks time.”
Team Sprint qualifying: France 43.066, 1; New Zealand 43.414, 2; Australia 43.417, 3; Russia 43.473, 4.
Final: New Zealand 43.052, 1; France 43.186, 2; Australia 43.584, 3; Russia 43.808, 4.