Cycling New Zealand has named a 14-strong team to contest the UCI Junior World Track Cycling Championships in Switzerland, including second-time representative Corbin Strong and first-time sprinter Sophie-Leigh Bloxham, from Invercargill.
The championships will be held at the UCI headquarters in Aigle from 15-20 August.
National coach Jon Andrews said the level of competition in Europe, especially among the junior track programmes, is increasing significantly as nations realise its importance as they build track capability for Olympic competition going forward.
“The competition in Italy last year was very impressive with many nations ramping up their junior programmes,” Andrews said. “Russia and Denmark were extremely strong in the junior men and Italy in the junior women last year.
“We have held our own with our four medals last year and now we take a largely new team with a number of them eligible to compete in 2019 as well which is very exciting looking ahead.
“I am enthused by the prospects for this group as our Subway Performance Hubs start to produce the pathway development of young riders for the future.”
Back from last year is Nelson sprinter Shaane Fulton, who qualified eighth in the sprint last year and was beaten by the eventual champion in the quarterfinal, seventh in the time trial and a keirin finalist. She is the current national and Oceania under-19 sprint champion.
Also returning is outstanding endurance rider Corbin Strong from Invercargill, who was part of the team pursuit that won the bronze medal last year. He is the Oceania under-19 omnium, points and Madison champion.
There is plenty of quality throughout the team with the female endurance squad led by Waikato’s Ally Wollaston, the national under-19 pursuit, Points, Omnium and Scratch race winner.
She is joined by fellow Waikato rider McKenzie Milne, the Oceania Scratch and Madison champion; the Oceania Omnium winner Jenna Merrick (Auckland), Oceania team pursuit winner Samantha Donnelly and fellow Cantabrian Annmarie Lipp, who podiumed in the pursuit and Points at the national championships.
Fulton will be joined by the under-19 national time trial winner Sophie-Leigh Bloxham from Southland in the sprint competition.
Strong heads the male endurance squad that includes Waikato’s George Jackson, with the pair joining to win the Oceania Madison title late last year. Jackson is also the Oceania Under-19 Points winner.
The pair is joined by national junior pursuit champion Finn Fisher-Black (Nelson), scratch race champion Kiaan Watts from Taupo, Pursuit podium placegetter Bailey O’Donnell from Christchurch and Waikato BOP Performance Hub rider Jarred Treymane.
Triple national junior champion in all three sprint disciplines, Thomas Garbett, is the sole male sprinter in the team.
The team is:
Female, Endurance: Ally Wollaston (Cambridge), McKenzie Milne (Waikato), Jenna Merrick (Auckland), Samantha Donnelly (Christchurch), Annmarie Lipp (Christchurch).
Sprint: Shaane Fulton (Nelson), Sophie-Leigh Bloxham (Invercargill).
Male, Endurance: Bailey O’Donnell (Christchurch), Corbin Strong (Invercargill), Finn Fisher-Black (Nelson), George Jackson (Waikato), Jarred Treymane (Cambridge), Kiaan Watts (Taupo). Sprint: Thomas Garbett (Levin).