More than 160 riders from 41 schools will take part in the National School Track Cycling Championships in Cambridge later this month. The inaugural championship has attracted cyclists from Kaitaia College in the Far North to James Hargest School in Invercargill, to be staged at the Avantidrome in Cambridge on 20-21 March.
There is individual racing for six age grades from under-13 years to under-20 years as well as Team Sprint and Team Pursuit for junior (under-16) and senior (under-20) categories. While podium placings for individual events will be recognised, the major honour will go for overall points, awarded for each of the three race disciplines.
“We are really pleased with the level of interest in this first national school track competition, which is recognition of the rapidly growing interest among young people in cycling,” said Kevin Searle, Chairman of Cycling New Zealand Schools.
“We already have South Island and North Island events, and while outdoor velodromes throughout the country are seeing increased interest, there are also significant numbers congregating at our two current indoor velodromes at Invercargill and Cambridge.”
The championships include a number of young riders who are part of the initial three Subway Performance Hubs for track and road riders, the development pathway programme established by Cycling New Zealand. There are also a number of riders who have already represented New Zealand and recently competed with distinction at the Vantage Age Group Track National Championships in Southland last week.
Several riders will also be looking for strong form to further push their claims for higher honours, and inclusion in the New Zealand team for the UCI Junior World Championship.
Leading the way is former Auckland rider Ally Wollaston, who now lives with her family in Cambridge and attends St Peter’s Cambridge. She enjoyed outstanding success at the recent national championships with individual wins in the scratch, points, individual pursuit and omnium while the 16-year-old is also the national junior time trial champion on the road.
There will be interest in the performances of fellow Waikato Bay of Plenty Hub rider McKenzie Milne who had a number of podiums at the New Zealand Championships and won the scratch race at the Oceania Championships.
She is joined by under-16 national champion Samantha Ogle, formerly from Christchurch but now at Cambridge High School, and sister of Jackson Ogle who medalled at the junior world championships last year.
The other Hub riders competing include Auckland’s Renee Young, from Takapuna Grammar, who placed at the national criterium championships; Conor Shearing, from the Otago Southland Hub and Eva Parkinson (Waikato BOP Hub – Waikato Diocesan) who won the points and sprint titles at the national championships. Another to watch for is Manawatu’s Angus Claasen from Palmerston North Boys High School, who was a podium placegetter in the keirin at the national championships.
Racing begins at 4pm on Tuesday 20 March with sessions from 8.30am and 3.30pm on Wednesday 21 March.