Cycling New Zealand head coach Dayle Cheatley is looking for new riders who dare to dream about the Tokyo Olympics to show their wares at the National Track Cycling Championships in Invercargill starting on Thursday.
“The first year after an Olympics presents an ideal time for riders to put up their hands to be noticed,” said Cheatley.
The Vantage Doors and Windows sponsored Championships run from Thursday until Sunday at Invercargill SIT Velodrome.
A number of Rio Olympians are focussing on road racing this year in their development towards Tokyo, leaving some opportunities for national titles in Invercargill.
“Young riders who want to be high performance cyclists need to show us this week that they have the talent and desire to reach the top,” he said.
“By the end of this year we will be starting to mould the combinations from which we will ultimately select the final teams for Tokyo. The national championships this week presents a starting point.”
Cheatley said there is some talent coming through in their development ranks and now they are looking for the next group to show their hand.
A key to this is the development of the National Performance Hubs, with two of the planned six regional cycling performance centre now established. The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Hub is already bringing through some young riders with exciting talents, while the Southern Performance Hub, to be based at Invercargill, will be officially launched this week. The National Mountain Bike Performance Hub is also up and running based in Rotorua.
The SIT Southern Performance Hub coach Sid Cumming has named the initial seven riders to join the Hub.
They include five riders from Invercargill in Maddy Gough, Tayla Lumsden, Mitchell Morris, Sam Miller and Corbin Strong with Nicole Shields from Alexandra and Ewan Syme from Dunedin.
Lumsden is the national under-17 team sprint and team pursuit champion while Gough is a medallist in the same age group in team pursuit and sprint.
Shields is a national champion on the road and track as well as a world championship medallist in the team pursuit last year.
Morris is a national under -19 team sprint champion and Oceania medallist in the team sprint Ewan Syme was national under-17 champion in team sprint and team pursuit.
Strong is a blue chip prospect as a national under-17 champion on the road and the track where he has won eight titles, while Miller, a former national champion on the road and track, is coming back to the sport after six months off with illness.
“These riders has the type of pedigree we are looking for and under the Hub programme I am confident they will have the opportunity
The Southern Institute of Technology-sponsored Hub will provide development opportunities for talented young riders from the region, working in with the existing local cycling programmes and infrastructure to add value and connect riders with their pathway to high performance.
Morning sessions at the Vantage Windows and Doors National Track Championships begin at 10am with evening finals from 6.30pm.
CAPTION: SIT Southern Performance Hub rider Corbin Strong, one of the rising stars hoping to be noticed at the New Zealand Track Championships this week in Invercargill.
Photo courtesy Dianne Manson