Olympic medallist Simon Van Velthooven dug deep to win a silver medal on the opening night of finals at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Belarus.
Van Velthooven, third in last year’s championships, powered home over the final two laps in 1:00.869 to overtake all but the Frenchman Francois Pervis who set one of the fastest times ever recorded at sea level of 1:00.221 in the penultimate ride.
Van Velthooven, who raced last as the top ranked rider, emulated the efforts of the legendary Harry Kent who gained New Zealand’s first ever medal at the world championships when he placed second in the same event in 1970.
“It was great. I knew I was on a good time but it didn’t feel sensational,” Van Velthooven said. “ The person who beat me today rode a sensational time which was a sea level world record I think. To come out after seeing that was a little bit daunting. I knew it could be beaten but unfortunately I couldn’t beat it today.
“I put it all out there. I am still really happy with a silver medal. Francois has been doing the kilo for 10 years now and it’s taken him that long to win the world title. There’s still plenty of future for me in it,” said the 24 year old.
Van Velthooven believes the kilo time trial should make a return to the Olympic schedule.
“The kilo is an event that ties in all the other Olympic events. The team sprint and the keirin are still my main focus but the kilo is a very gladiatorial event and I love doing it.
“It is a huge reward for how much training you put in and is so gladiatorial and that’s why I think it should still be an Olympic event.”
Compatriot Eddie Dawkins, the eighth of 19 riders off, briefly went to the top of the table with his solid effort of 1:02.212 on the velodrome in Minsk which was decidedly cooler than the morning session as temperatures remain well below freezing point outside. The Southlander eventually finished eighth fastest.
Germany’s Joachim Eilers claimed the lead with his 1:01.450 before Pervis went more than a second faster in a superb effort, following on from his third placings in the event in 2010 and 2011, and being edged out of the medals by Van Velthooven last year.
The big Kiwi was only 11th fastest after the opening lap and eighth at the halfway mark before setting the standard in the closing two laps when most others fade.
“To be honest I just go as fast as I can which is why they call me the Rhino. It wasn’t a conservative start, it was me going as hard as I could. It’s just that Francois is such a good starter which is something I need to work on.
“My third and fourth laps were the fastest. I do love the lactose tolerance side of it and really hurting myself which is probably half the reason I love doing it because of the pain involved.”
Van Velthooven said the team will be buoyed by today’s medal and believes more success full follow the team sprint set for tomorrow.
“The sprint boys looked at eachother and agreed that we can all win medals here this week and may be world titles. It’s a great start and I hope it will be a good kick-start.
Result: Men’s 1km Time Trial: Francois Pervis (FRA) 1:00.221, 1; Simon Van Velthooven (NZL) 1:00;86, 2; Joachim Eilers (GER) 1:01.450, 3. Also: Eddie Dawkins (NZL) 1:02.21, 8.