CYCLING

Big opening night of action for track cycling team in Hong Kong

By Sports Media NZ Ltd

The New Zealand track cycling team have a big start overnight to the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Hong Kong.

The men’s team sprint, men’s team pursuit and women’s team pursuit are all in action on the opening day of the championships at the Hong Kong Velodrome.

The qualifying session for the team pursuits is from 7pm (NZ Time) with the fastest eight men’s teams to progress through to the first round in the evening session that starts at 11pm (NZ time). The women’s qualifiers are not in action again until day two.

The men’s team sprint trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins will attempt to defend the rainbow jerseys they won in London last year.

It will be the first world championship run under the new format which will see them needing to negotiate three rides in less than two hours on the evening programme.

The fastest eight of 16 teams will progress to the first round, with the fastest two in that round to ride off for the gold medal and next two fastest for the bronze.

The New Zealand team trialled this at the recent World Cup and have trained with this challenging format in mind.

The team pursuits will be finalised on the second day of the championships with the fastest eight women’s teams from tonight’s qualifying to ride their first round and the medal ride, while the men have the medal ride only.

Cycling New Zealand head coach Dayle Cheatley, who is also currently coaching the men’s endurance squad, said while strong performances are an obvious aim, the world championships after an Olympics provide an opportunity to test protocols and to blood new talent for the future.

“We have a good number of our Rio Olympians back again but we are also excited with the healthy injection of youth into the squads who will be pressing our more experienced riders towards Tokyo 2020 and beyond,” Cheatley said.

“The squad will want to make a good account of themselves here. At the same time we are just making a start on the build towards Tokyo. We have events with new formats including the team sprint, team pursuit and omnium, so this is an opportunity to test ourselves against the world’s best on how best to prepare for these events.

“The world championships are the only opportunity to ride some of the traditional cycling events like the Kilo, Madison, Points and Scratch races that are no longer part of the World Cups or Olympics as we also look to next year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

“We are excited about the likes of Michaela Drummond and Campbell Stewart. We won’t be putting them under too much pressure but allowing them the opportunity to experience a world championship environment. They are both outstanding prospects but it does take time to transition from junior to elite ranks.”

It is the first time the world championships have been staged in Asia since 1990, when New Zealand earned its first ever women’s world championship title after Karen Holliday won the Points Race.
The Vantage New Zealand elite team is:

Female, Endurance: Racquel Sheath, Michaela Drummond, Jaime Nielsen, Kirstie James, Rushlee Buchanan. Sprint: Natasha Hansen

Male Endurance: Dylan Kennett, Piet Bulling, Regan Gough, Nick Kergozou, Campbell Stewart, Aaron Gate. Sprint: Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Zac Williams.

CAPTION: The men’s team pursuit jump out of the blocks at the world championships in London in 2016.

The image is free for editorial use. Credit: Guy Swarbrick

Details: www.cyclingnewzealand.nz
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