The New Zealand track team earned some valuable points although made just one podium in the opening UCI Track World Cup in Mexico.
The world champion team sprint took out the bronze medal yesterday while the best today was a fourth placing to Sam Webster in the individual sprint at Guadalajara.
The BikeNZ team gained more than useful qualifying points towards the Rio Olympics in what proved an excellent litmus test for the track programme.
“We came over here to benchmark ourselves against the rest of the world,” said BikeNZ head coach, Dayle Cheatley. “We did rides that we thought we were capable of doing. The bonus of that is that it has put us right up there near the top end of the field which is great Olympic qualifying points for us.
“Yes we have some work to do. We knew that coming in but we wanted to see where we were against the rest of the world and we are quite happy where we are sitting right now.”
The opening World Cup met with a fair share of challenges with an exhausting new format and a gastro bug that laid low a number of riders across several teams staying in the same hotel, including Kiwis Matt Archibald and Marc Ryan.
“The new format for the World Cup is very challenging. It’s been some long days for the riders but we will deal with it and we will get on with it.
“We've also faced some other challenges with a gastro bug that has gone through our hotel. We've got protocols for such eventualities although you can only control what you can control, so again it was a matter of dealing with it.”
Best results today came from Webster who finished fourth in the men’s sprint which unearthed some fierce action.
After qualifying only 16th in a remarkable session where 24 riders went under the 10 second barrier, Webster clawed his way through the repechage to ultimately earn a semifinal showdown against Olympic champion Jason Kenny.
Webster earned the gold medal over Kenny in the sprint final at the Commonwealth Games but this time the Great British rider had the top end speed advantage, as did Colombia’s Fabian Puerta in the bronze medal rides.
“I tried my hand at all three events which was pretty tough in this new format. So to come away with third in the team sprint and fourth in the sprint I am pretty happy with,” Webster said.
“Today I thought I rode tactically well but just missing a little bit of that top end speed which has always been the icing on the cake to have right come the London World Cup.
“I had ridden my keirin event before we had the final ride in the team sprint yesterday so I was a bit tired. But the other boys rode faster than in the qualifying and overall we went faster – the only team to achieve that – and we got the fastest time of the event.
“I am happy to start the World Cup season this way with points on the board. We will be looking to pull the rainbow jerseys out again for the team sprint in London and do it a little bit more justice. I think we are better than the bronze medal we got here.”
Earlier Eddie Dawkins was fifth fastest in qualifying in the men’s sprint with a superb 9.780s, which was close to his best time at altitude of 9.737 sec in Mexico last year. However the big Southlander went out in the first round to German Erik Balzer.
BikeNZ debuted Cameron Karwowski and newcomer Racquel Sheath in the gruelling six-event omnium, with both finishing 11th.
Karwowski, a former junior world team sprint champion, moved to third place with the points race remaining after second in the 1000m time trial and victory in the flying lap. However he ran out of fuel in the tough 40kms points race to drop back to 11th overall.
Waikato’s Sheath was 15th in the 500m time trial in 36.934s, 10th in the Flying Lap in 14.494 and also struggled in the points race where she was 21st.
Earlier Stephanie McKenzie bowed out of the women’s keirin, finishing third in her first round race and second in the repechage where only the winner advanced.
The second World Cup is in London on 5-7 December and the final round in Cali (Colombia) on 17-18 January.
Results day 3:
Men Sprint, qualifying: Matthew Glaetzer (AUS) 9.516, 1; Peter Lewis (AUS) 9.747, 2; Stefan Botticher (GER) 9.768, 3. Also: Eddie Dawkins (NZL) 9.780, 5; Sam Webster 9.898, 15.
Round 1: Webster be Seiichiro Nakagawa (JPN), Erek Balzer (GER) bt Dawkins. Round 2: Robert Forstermann (GER) bt Webster. Repechage: Webster 1, Nikita Shurshin (RUS) 2, Hersony Canelon (VEN) 3. Quarterfinal: Webster bt Pavel Kelemen (CZE), Glaetzer bt Lewis, Jason Kenny (GBR) bt Michael D’Almeida (FRA), Fabian Puerta (COL) bt Forstermann. Semifinal (best of 3): Kenny bt Webster 2-0, Glaetzer bt Puerta 2-0. Bronze ride: Puerta bt Webster 2-0. Final: Glaetzer bt Kenny 2-0.
Women Omnium day 2:
500m time trial: Marties Garcia (CUB) 34.808, 1; Jolien D’Hoore (*BEL) 35.299, 2; Malgorzata Wojtyra (POL) 35.643, 3. Also: Racquel Sheath (NZL) 36.934, 15.
Flying Lap: Garcia 13.887, 1; D’Hoore 13.910, 2; Kirsten Wild (NED) 14.120, 3. Also: Sheath 14.494, 10.
Points race: Sofia Arreola (MEX) 40 points, 1; Amalie Dideriksen (DEN) 27, 2; Wild 16, 3. Also: Sheath 0, 21.
Overall: D’Hoore 193, 1; Garcia 183, 2; Wojtyra 166, 3. Also: Sheath 100, 11.
1000m time trial: Lucas Liss (GER) 1:01.381, 1; Cameron Karwowski (NZL) 1:01.415, 2; Glen O’Shea (AUS) 1:02.411, 3.
Flying Lap: Karwowski 12.824, 1; Elia Viviami (ITA) 12.869, 2; Casper Pedersen (DEN) 12.914, 3.
Points race: Eiya Hashimoto (JPN) 72 points, 1; Juan Esteban Arango (COL) 56, 2; Unai Elorriaga (ESP) 56, 3. Also: Karwowski -20, 18.
Overall: Liss 192, 1; O’Shea 186, 2; Bobby Lea (USA) 179, 3. Also: Karwowski 136, 11.
CAPTION: Cameron Karwowski in action during the omnium individual pursuit.
Photo credit: Guy Swarbrick-BikeNZ