Outstanding Manawatu cyclist Campbell Stewart successfully defended his rainbow jersey in an enthralling omnium competition on the penultimate day of the UCI Juniors Track Cycling World Championships in Switzerland.
Stewart, second overall after the first day, won the 200m flying lap and was second in the 1000m time trial to move into the overall lead in the competition with the gruelling points race remaining.
It proved a riveting contest with the 17 year old Kiwi losing the overall lead twice during the race before regrouping to win three of the last five sprints and gain a vital lap on the field to secure the victory at the UCI Velodrome in Aigle.
British rider Fred Wright put a lap on the field to claim the 20 bonus points to sneak into the overall lead before Argentine rider Tomas Contte unleashed to lap the field on three occasions and jump from mid-pack to the competition lead with 30 laps remaining.
However Stewart rode with nous to match his skill and speed and covered the Argentinean to secure the victory, and match his win in this event at Kazakhstan last year.
It is his second world title at the championships after being part of the men’s victorious team pursuit, to match his two rainbow jerseys earned last year.
His win brought the New Zealand tally to six medals at the championships including three world titles, with one day remaining.
Southland sprinter Emma Cumming finished fourth in the individual sprint. She won her first semifinal over world record holder Pauline Grabosch but the German fought back to win the remaining two races in the best of three contest.
Dutch rider Hetty van de Wouw then beat the New Zealander in two straight rides in the battle for bronze while Grabosch took out the gold medal over China’s Yufang Guo also in two rides.
Fellow Southland sprinter Bradly Knipe was in outstanding form in the men’s individual sprint competition. He topped the field in 10.223s for the 200m qualifying ahead of Stefan Ritter (CAN) and Connor Rowley (AUS) to shut out the favoured Europeans.
Knipe had no problems dispatching Brandon Pineda (GUA) in the first round of match racing and Nik Schroter (GER) in the second round to move into the quarterfinals on the final day tomorrow.
Michaela Drummond hopes to emulate the feats of fellow Manawatu rider Stewart after moving to second overall after the first day of the women’s omnium.
Drummond was second behind Italy’s Elisa Balsamo in the scratch race, second to Lithuania’s Olivia Baleisyte in the 2000m individual sprint in 2:24.717 and third in the elimination race.
Balsamo leads the competition on 114 points with Drummond on 112 and Baleisyte on 102 with the flying lap, 500m time trial and points race tomorrow.
Earlier Jared Gray was 10th in qualifying for the men’s 3000m individual pursuit in 3:19.145 while Josh Scott was 17th in 3:23.900.
Stewart returns to the track tomorrow when he pairs up with Tom Sexton in the exciting Madison competition as he chases a third rainbow jersey at these world championships, a feat only realised once before by Rio Olympian Sam Webster at Moscow in 2009.
Omnium, 200m flying lap: Valentin Tabellion (FRA) 10.400, 1; Campbell Stewart (NZL) 10.410, 2; Kelland O’Brien (AUS) 10.592, 3. 1000m time trial: Stewart 1:02.030, 1; Fred Wright (GBR) 1:04.014, 2; Tabellion 1:04.070, 3. Points race: Tomas Contte (ARG) 74 points, 1; Julius Johansen (DEN) 50, 2; Stewart 40, 3.
Final points: Campbell Stewart 224, 1; Contte 218, 2; Johansen 204, 3.
Women sprint, semifinals: Pauline Grabosch (GER) bt Emma Cumming (NZL) 2-1; Yufang Guo (CHN) bt Hetty van de Wouw (NED) 2-0. Bronze ride: Van de Wouw bt Cumming 2-0. Gold ride: Grabosch bt Guo 2-0.
Men sprint, qualifying: Bradly Knipe (NZL) 10.223, 1; Stefan Ritter (CAN) 10.245, 2; Conor Rowley (AUS) 10.251, 3.
Women omnium, Scratch race: Elisa Balsamo (ITA) 1, Michaela Drummond (NZL) 2, Eleanor Dickinson (GBR) 3. 2000m individual pursuit: Olivija Baleisyte (LTU) 2:23.544, 1; Drummond 2:24.717, 2; Balsamo 2:25.075, 3. Elimination: Maggie Coles-Lyster (CAN) 1, Balsamo 2, Drummond 3.
Points after 3 races: Balsamo 114, 1; Drummond 112, 2; Baleisyte 102, 3.
CAPTION: Sprinter Bradly Knipe is in action on his way to topping qualifiers in the individual sprint.
Image courtesy Guy Swarbrick.