11 Southlanders are set to represent the 30-strong NZ track cycling team heading to contest the all-important Oceania Cycling Championships in Adelaide next month.
The Championships are officially for 2015 and provide qualification directly to next year’s World Championships, which are an all-important gateway to the Rio Olympics.
Both New Zealand and Australia are sending virtual full-strength teams, especially in the sprint categories, with a full world championship programme with competition for elites and juniors (born in 1997 or 1998) crammed into four days.
It will be a repeat of the clash at the Commonwealth Games this year where New Zealand out-pointed Australia with the two countries on top of the medal count ahead of the home countries and Canada.
BikeNZ selectors have left Simon van Velthooven off the team as the Olympic and Commonwealth Games medallists wants to focus on building a training base for next year after virtually a full year of racing that includes two lengthy stints in the Japan Keirin League.
However the world champion team pursuit trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins will be joined by Glasgow medallist Matt Archibald in the men, while Commonwealth Games rep Steph McKenzie is paired with Otago’s Katie Schofield in the women.
The Australians have their Glasgow combination who will be pressured by the young pairing of Patrick Constable and Jacob Schmid, who impressed in the UCI qualifying event in Cambridge at the weekend. In the women Olympic great Anna Meares heads a strong group.
New Zealand’s endurance group will include Glasgow double medallists Marc Ryan and Aaron Gate and the return of points race gold medallist Tom Scully.
They will be without Glasgow star Shane Archbold, who has just signed a fulltime professional contract with top rating NetApp Endura team on the roads in Europe – and has been replaced by Southland’s Cameron Karwowski. Also missing is team pursuit starter Dylan Kennett, who is on a break and Paddy Bevin, taking time out of the sport.
The women’s endurance group is bolstered with teenage newcomers Holly Edmondston, 18, (Waimate) and Racquel Sheath, 19, formerly from North Harbour and now in the Waikato, who are both junior world championship medallists.
“It will be an important four days because an automatic spot in next year’s world championship allows the additional flexibility around our competition schedules and selection,” said BikeNZ Head Coach, Dayle Cheatley. “It also provides for an earlier chance to cement a spot for
Rio and would mean that there is not the pressure of travelling to competitions late in the qualifying cycling to chase those points to make the cut for the Olympics.
“Our riders are only just back into training load, and won’t be at their peak, but it is the same for most of the Australian riders as well.
“The programme is huge. There’s around nine hours of competition every day – some late nights, early starts and racing tired.”
The Oceania Championships run from 8-11 October at the Adelaide Superdrome, which is home for the Australian track programme.
The New Zealand team is:
Elite, male, sprint: Matt Archibald (Invercargill), Eddie Dawkins (Invercargill), Sam Webster (Auckland), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland)
Endurance: Westley Gough (Waipukurau), Pieter Bulling (Invercargill), Marc Ryan (Timaru), Aaron Gate (Auckland), Cameron Karwowski (Invercargill), Tom Scully (Invercargill),
Female, sprint: Katie Schofield (Dunedin), Stephanie McKenzie (Invercargill),
Endurance: Lauren Ellis (Hinds), Jaime Nielsen (Cambridge), Holly Edmondston (Waimate), Georgia Williams (Auckland), Raquel Sheath (Te Awamutu),
Male, endurance: Sam Buckner (Christchurch), Hamish Beadle (Invercargill),
Endurance: Campbell Stewart (Palmerston North), Tom Sexton (Invercargill), Lachlan McGregor (Dunedin), Max Jones (Christchurch).
Female, sprint: Emma Cumming (Invercargill), Jaymie King (Taupo).
Endurance: Michaela Drummond (Ashurst), Makayla Smith (Invercargill), Ione Johnson (Wellington),
Reserves: Kendall Kilpatrick (Invercargill), Madeleine Park (Auckland).
Coaches: Dayle Cheatley, Anthony Peden (elite); Ross Machejekski, Mark Lucas (junior).
CAPTION: World champion team sprint combination lead strong team for the Oceania Championships.
Photo courtesy Guy Swarbrick