New Zealand will chase gold in the men’s team pursuit after a record-setting effort on the opening day of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin.
The Vantage elite men’s combination set a new national record in the first round against third-seeded France to advance to the gold medal clash on day two. They will take on Denmark who set a new world record in qualifying.
Also in the mix for medals on day two will be the Vantage women’s team pursuit, who will take on top seeds USA in the first round, after qualifying fourth fastest.
The men’s team sprint ticked their first box in qualifying sixth fastest, which has secured qualification for the Tokyo Olympics. But they missed out on a chance for the medals after they were pipped by France in a closely-fought first round clash.
The women’s team missed out on qualifying for the first round, placed 10th in the qualification.
There was plenty of excitement in the men’s team pursuit with the New Zealand combination of Campbell Stewart, Aaron Gate, Regan Gough, Jordan Kerby finished second fastest in qualifying in 3:48.742, only half a second outside their national record set at the Brisbane World Cup just before Christmas.
They were pipped for top spot by a remarkable world record from Denmark who clocked 3:46.579 to be 1.5 seconds under the previous record set by Australia at last year’s world championships.
The same kiwi quartet returned for their first round clash against third-ranked France, with the winner earning a place in tomorrow’s gold medal final.
The Vantage elite men’s team responded superbly to clock 3:47.501 which was 0.7s inside their New Zealand record as they dominated the match race to advance to the final.
They will face Denmark who had to lower their world record just to make the final after they were pushed to the limited by Italy in a remarkable battle, with both teams going under the previous record mark. Denmark prevailed with a frantic last two laps to win in 3:46.203, only 0.3s ahead of Italy, who will take on Australia for the bronze medal.
“The boys really tidied things up with a stellar ride in the first round to get to the gold medal ride,” said head coach Craig Palmer. “We came here to take a step up from performances in the world cups and this was the first time racing with this combination. So it was two pretty impressive rides from them and sets them up really well for the gold medal ride tomorrow.
“We have a bit more in the tank once we tidy a couple of things up and we will be taking it to them (Denmark) to challenge in the final.”
The Vantage women’s team pursuit combination of Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan, Kirstie James, Jaime Nielsen produced a solid performance to qualify fourth fastest in 4:14.383.
It means that they will take on top qualifiers USA who went 4:11.299 in qualifying, with the winner to earn a place in the gold medal final, with the next two fastest teams to make the bronze medal contest.
The men’s team sprint opened with a 43.083 effort in qualifying to end up sixth fastest. While Netherlands were in a class of their own, topping the list under the 42-second mark, there was only half a second separating second placed Great Britain and the kiwis in sixth.
The Kiwis could not quite improve on this with a 43.205 ride in the first round to be on the losing end of the clash with long-time rivals France by half a second.
“We had a solid qualification ride for the boys which actually hoped for more but we could not quite convert in the first round. We prepared well and have done all the work, said head sprint coach, Rene Wolff.
“The boys are stronger and more powerful than they have ever been but at the moment we have not been able to put the rides together so we have heaps of work ahead.
“The girls right now reflects our instability. We have showed that we can have a good world class ride like we did in Cambridge. If we equalled that time today we would be within the mix. So we have a lot of work to do on the physical side to make the next step.”
Wolff said he is hopeful of quarterfinal performances for both men and women in their respective individual races to come.
Day two action includes the medal rounds for both women and men team pursuits, the men’s keirin and women’s sprint.
Day 1 Results:
Women’s team pursuit qualifying, 4000m: USA 4:11.299, 1; Great Britain 4:11.871, 2; Canada 4:12.728, 3; New Zealand (Bryony Botha, Rushlee Buchanan, Kirstie James, Jaime Nielsen) 4:14.383, 4.
Men’s Team Pursuit qualifying, 4000m: Denmark 3:46.579, 1 (World Record); New Zealand (Campbell Stewart, Aaron Gate, Regan Gough, Jordan Kerby) 3:48.742, 2; France 3:49.558, 3; Italy 3:49.995, 4
First round: Great Britain 3:51.561, 1; Germany 3:53.577, 2; Australia 3:48.625, 1; Switzerland 3:51.665, 2. New Zealand (Stewart, Gate, Gough, Kerby) 3:47.501, 1 (NZ Record), France 3:54.124, 2. Denmark 3:46.203, 1 (world record), Italy 3:46.513, 2.
Women Team Sprint qualifying: Russia 32.461, 1; China 32.580, 2; Australia 32.696, 3. Also: New Zealand (Olivia Podmore, Natasha Hansen) 33.184, 10.
Men Team Sprint qualifying: Netherlands 41.987, 1; Great Britain 42.471, 2; France 42.805, 3. New Zealand (Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins) 43.083, 6.
First round: Australia 43.044, 1; Poland 43.490; France 42.730, 1; New Zealand 43.205, 2. Great Britain 42.294, 1; Germany 43.144, 2. Netherlands 41.275, 1 World Record); Russia 42.886, 2.