You couldn’t accuse Auckland’s Sam Dakin of not taking his chance at this week’s Vantage Windows and Doors Elite and Under 19 track national championships in Invercargill.
The 21-year-old has been the standout sprinter at the SIT Velodrome, winning the elite 1000m time trial, sprint and keirin.
“You couldn’t plan for much better really. I came here a year ago in pretty good nick and just completely underperformed, so to come back a year later and do the triple was a dream week,” Dakin said.
This year’s championships have been notable for the missing cohort of New Zealand’s best riders, who are in the Netherlands for next week’s world championships.
However, the vacuum has been ably filled by young stagers like Dakin, Callum Saunders and Jackson Ogle.
“With the worlds guys away some people are calling the nationals the ‘best of the rest’, but that wasn’t the case,” Dakin said.
“It gave a few of us younger guys a taste of victory and that’s set the competition up. Callum pushed me to my limits three days in a row, and the same with Jackson, and I wouldn’t want to share the podium with anyone else.”
Dakin, who is eyeing up next year’s UCI World Cup meet in Cambridge and the 2020 Olympics, will take a break from the bike now before heading to the United States track cycling mecca of Trexlertown for a third season.
“The first year was a really big learning curve, competing on the international scene and travelling overseas by myself for the first time was hugely character building. Last year I headed over again and wasn’t on the best form but was able to learn a lot of things.”
Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Tess Young narrowly missed out completing a triple of women’s sprint wins in her former home town when she had to settle for second in the keirin.
In the under 19 men’s division, Thomas Garbett advanced to the sprint final after a three-ride semifinal against local rider Conor Shearing after he was relegated in the opening ride.
He was too good for Southland’s Nepia Ruwhiu over two rides and claimed his second title of these championships after also winning the kilo.
Southland’s Nicole Marshall topped qualifying in the under 19 women’s sprint qualifying in 11.866sec, just ahead of Shaane Fulton (Tasman).
Both riders went to the final after two-up semi-final wins, with Fulton winning the title over three rides.
Ally Wollaston (Wai-BOP), winner of the under 19 women’s points race the night before, took out the scratch and elimination races to add the omnium title to her week’s work.
An exciting under 19 men’s omnium saw George Jackson claim the title on countback with a win in the final sprint of the deciding points race, with Waikato-Bay of Plenty teammate Kiaan Watts having to settle for second place.
Canterbury’s Bailey O’Donnell recovered from a crash to finish third overall.
Former Tour of Southland winner Brad Evans made a successful temporary return to the track with a win in the 20km elite men’s points race.
The championships finish on Sunday.
Results, Day 3 Vantage Windows and Doors Elite and Under 19 track national championships:
Women 20km Points Race final: Jessie Hodges (Wai-BOP) 1; Olivia Ray (Auckland) 2; Libby Arbuckle (WCNI) 3.
Women keirin final: Olivia Ray (Auckland) 1; Tess Young (Wai-BOP) 2; Jessie Hodges (Wai-BOP) 3.
Men keirin final: Sam Dakin (Auckland) 1; Callum Saunders (Wai-BOP) 2; Maxwell Uivel (Wellington) 3.
Men 30km Points Race final: Brad Evans (Otago) 1; Josh Scott (Canterbury) 2; Harry Waine (Auckland) 1.
Women Points Race final: Ally Wollaston (Wai-BOP) 1; Annamarie Lipp (Canterbury) 2; Jenna Merrick (Auckland) 3.
Women Sprint final: Shaane Fulton (Tasman) 1; Nicole Marshall (Southland) 2; Britney Greene (Canterbury) 3.
Men Sprint final: Thomas Garbett (WCNI) 1; Nepia Ruwhiu (Southland) 2; Angus Claasen (WCNI) 3.
Women omnium: Ally Wollaston (Wai-BOP) 1; Emily Patterson (Southland) 2; Annamarie Lipp (Canterbury) 3.
Men omnium: George Jackson (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) 1; Kiaan Watts (Waikato-Bay of Plenty) 2; Bailey O’Donnell (Canterbury) 3.
CAPTION: Auckland rider Sam Dakin, left, just edges out Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Callum Saunders in the elite men’s keirin at the 2018 Vantage Windows and Doors Elite and Under 19 track national championships.
Photo courtesy Eugene Bonthuys