Olympic medallist Simon Van Velthooven showed his class to dominate the heats of the keirin on the third day of qualifying at the BikeNZ national track cycling championships in Invercargill today.
Van Velthooven led from the front to win his heat and qualify for tonight’s semifinals in the event where he gained his bronze medal in London.
All of sprinting big guns fired more than enough ammunition to travel directly to the semifinals with Van Velthooven and Southland’s Karl Watson qualifying from the first heat. Eddie Dawkins (Southland) and 250m time trial winner Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) topped placings in the second heat while sprint champion Sam Webster (Auckland) and Matt Archibald (Southland) went through in the final heat.
However glory can be short-lived in the world of sprint cycling. Southland teenager Stephanie McKenzie, who claimed her first national elite title in the sprint final last year, missed out on a spot in the final in the women’s keirin.
McKenzie was edged into fourth place behind Paige Paterson (Auckland), Katie Schofield (Dunedin) and Liz Steel (Christchurch) in the second heat and will be forced into the ride-off for seventh to 12th placing tonight.
National champion Natasha Hansen impressed in winning the first heat over Victoria Steel (Christchurch) and Racquel Sheath (Auckland).
Tonight’s final session features the finals of the keirin, the women’s 10km scratch race featuring points race winner Lauren Ellis, fellow Olympian Rushlee Buchanan and in-form rookie elite, Georgia Williams (Auckland).
London Olympic medallist Aaron Gate will be favoured in the 20km points race after a brilliant ride to win the men’s scratch race last night.