Auckland’s Sam Webster prevailed from the bevy of world class sprinters to claim the men’s sprint title on the second night of finals at the national track cycling championships in Invercargill.
The 21 year old, who missed out on a spot in the team for the London Olympics, showed the speed and nous to prevail over Southland comer Matt Archibald in two-straight rides in the best of three finals.
Meanwhile Stephanie McKenzie, in just her second year in the elite ranks, upset Southland compatriot and Olympian Natasha Hansen 2-0 in the women’s final. It was an outstanding result for the teenager who won four world junior championship medals.
It marked an impressive day of world class performances from the burgeoning group of BikeNZ sprinters who have set some sizzling performances amid the sweltering conditions at Stadium Southland Velodrome.
The standards were set in the morning qualifying where three men went under the previous New Zealand record in the sprint.
Yesterday’s 250m time trial champion Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) set the standard in a personal best of 10.140 before Archibald, who clocked a remarkable 9.937s at altitude in the Mexico World Cup two weeks ago, was first under the previous record with a 10.101s.
Southland compatriot Eddie Dawkins edged that with an outstanding 10.074 before Webster (Auckland) regained his own record when he went fastest with a 10.074.
Webster, a triple junior world champion, proved too classy for his close mate Mitchell 2-0 in one semifinal while Archibald prevailed in the all-Southland semi over Dawkins.
Webster displayed pure class and outstanding race craft to take the final over Archibald in two straight rides, after finishing runner-up in the last three years.
“It’s my first national sprint title,” Webster said. “It is nice to finally win one. I have had problems turning up at this time of year a bit cooked.
“I think I have a bit of maturity now. Dealing with the Olympic situation was pretty hard so I wanted to ensure I turn up for every race this season in pretty good nick. That extra hunger has shown me that I have that extra bounce and recovery from training.”
National record holder Hansen (Southland), beaten in both the 250m and 500m time trials yesterday, bounced back with an impressive 11.261s to qualify top in the women’s sprints ahead of Otago’s Katie Schofield (11.653) and Southland’s Stephanie McKenzie (11.414).
Hansen was too strong for multi world junior medallist Paige Paterson (Auckland) in one semifinal while McKenzie had too much power for Schofield in the other semi.
McKenzie came from behind to pip Hansen near the line in the first final and proved too strong in the second race for her first national elite individual title.
“I am stoked. It’s taken me two years to get back to where I was after coming from the junior ranks,” McKenzie said. “The key was confidence. I backed myself.
“I’ve worked hard in the gym and my trainer has worked with my coach Stu (McDonald) on the track to build up my confidence.
“I see my medals in the junior worlds as a bigger achievement but to come up to elite after junior worlds was pretty difficult which makes this feel pretty good.”
In other racing London Olympian Lauren Ellis (Hinds), the 2010 world championship points race silver medallist, lapped the field to win the national title in the4 same discipline tonight.
While fellow Olympian Rushlee Buchanan and outstanding Auckland prospect Georgia Williams battled for the points, Ellis sealed the result as the only rider to lap the field after a strong solo move..
The programme was rounded out with a brilliant performance from Auckland’s Aaron Gate who followed up victory in the individual pursuit with the men’s 15km scratch race.
Gate was always prominent throughout, going with a four-strong break that included fellow Olympian (Shane Archbold (Timaru), Brad Evans (Otago) and Michael Vink (Canberury).
The Aucklander, remembered for his brave fourth placing in the points race at last year’s world championship, attacked with a lap to go and had too much speed to hold off Archbold and Vink.
The championships continue until Sunday.
Day 2 finals results:
Men Sprint qualifying: Sam Webster (Auckland) 10.058, 1 (NZ record); Eddie Dawkins (Southland) 10.074, 2; Matt Archibald (Southland) 10.101, 3; Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) 10.140, 4.
Quarterfinals: Webster bt Dylan Kennett (Mid South Canterbury), Dawkins bt Shane Archbold (Mid South Canterbury), Archibald bt Tom Beadle (Southland), Mitchell bt Simon Van Velthooven (Auckland). Semifinals (best of 3): Webster bt Mitchell 2-0, Archibald bt Dawkins 2-0. Third/Fourth: Dawkins bt Mitchell 2-0. Final (best of 3: Webster bt Archibald 2-0.
Women Sprint qualifying: Natasha Hansen (Southland) 11.261, 1; Stephanie McKenzie (Southland) 11.414, 2; Katie Schofield (Otago) 11.653, 3; Paige Paterson (Auckland) 11.815, 4.
Quarterfinals: Hansen bt Kirstie James (Otago), McKenzie bt Kate Dudley (West Coast North Island), Schofield bt Victoria Steel (Canterbury), Paterson bt Henrietta Mitchell (Auckland). Semifinals (best of 3): Hansen bt Paterson 2-0, McKenzie bt Schofield 2-0. Third/Fourth: Schofield bt Paterson 2-0. Final: Mckenzie bt Hansen 2-0.
Women 20km points race: Lauren Ellis (Mid South Canterbury) 22, Georgia Williams (Auckland) 20, Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato BOP) 14.
Men 15km scratch race: Aaron Gate (Auckland) 1, Shane Archbold (Mid South Canterbury) 2, Michael Vink (Canterbury) 3.
Women 2000m individual pursuit, gold medal ride: Laura Heywood (Southland) 2:31.151, 1; Holly Edmondston (Canterbury) 2:33.511, 2. Bronze medal ride: Maxyna Cottam (West Coast North Island) 2:33.270, 3; Lauren Hobson (Auckland) 2:35.067, 4.
Men 3000m individual pursuit, gold medal: Alex Hooper (Mid South Canterbury) 3:24.789, 1; Connor Stead (Canterbury) 3:31.054, 2. Bronze medal: Regan Gough (East Coast North Island) 3:24.219, 3; Josh Haggerty (Southland) 3:28.240, 4.
Women Keirin: Lauren Hobson (Auckland) 1, Alice Hay (Canterbury) 2, Shannon Grinter (Waikato BOP) 3.
Men Keirin: Jeremy Presbury (Southland) 1, Reon Sheath (East Coast North Island) 2, Ryan Berney (East Coast North Island) 3.
Women 7.5km scratch race: Frances Smith (Mid South Canterbury) 1, Holly Edmondston (Canterbury) 2, Jennifer Muhl (Southland) 3.