Rushlee Buchanan produced an outstanding performance to grab New Zealand’s first medal at the UCI track cycling world championships in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn. Buchanan lapped the field twice in the points race, the final discipline in the four-event omnium, to jump from 11th place to third in the overall standings.
In her first omnium at a world championship, Buchanan, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated road riders, showed her skill on the track. She was 15th in the scratch race and 13th in the tempo race on the afternoon programme. She finished ninth in the exciting elimination race, but saved her best for last in the points race, a mix of chess on top of both endurance and sprinting ability.
After lapping the field early, she was in a key three-person break that lapped the field for a second time, to pick up 40 bonus points to go with two sprint wins up for grabs every 10 laps. “I started the day pretty slow but I knew my strengths were in the later events. I just raced to win the points race but with 20 laps to go I realised I was third overall. Then it was game on,” said Buchanan. “I just wanted to win the points race. New Zealand are pretty good in that event.
“It was always my plan to go long and be aggressive. I can’t beat the likes of Kirsten Wild in a match sprint so I knew I had to play my cards early and take as many opportunities as I could.
“I knew I had to leave it all out there. I tried to position myself for the last sprint, but ran out of gas – but it ended up in my favour.”
Buchanan said she would like to put her hand up for this spot through to the Tokyo Olympics. “I’ve always wanted to do an individual event. I love bunch racing which is where I started. I am grateful for the opportunity and stoked that I made the most of it and now I have put my hand up as an option for this event.
“I am certainly going to take huge confidence from this through to the Commonwealth Games.”
Dawkins muscled his way into tomorrow’s quarterfinals in the men’s individual sprint where he takes on Great Britain’s Jack Carlin. Teammate Ethan Mitchell, who won a bronze medal last year, headed the Kiwi qualifiers for the sprint, clocking 9.805s in a blistering qualifying session, to be 11th fastest. All three New Zealand sprinters qualified with Dawkins 14th in 9.843s and Sam Webster 23rd in 10.002s.
Dawkins and Mitchell both won their first round match races against Martin Cechman (CZE) and Damian Zielinski (POL) respectively, but Webster was edged out by Melvin Landerneau (FRA).
Dawkins then produced an outstanding ride to oust local star Harrie Lavreysen, the silver medallist last year and part of the Dutch team that won the team sprint on the opening day, to qualify him for the best-of-three race quarterfinal.
Unfortunately, Mitchell was pipped in a closely fought sprint finish by Poland’s Mateusz Rudyk in his second-round clash.
Regan Gough produced a strong ride for ninth in the men’s 40km, 160 lap Points Race. The Hawkes Bay rider was part of a break that lapped the field, and he pushed up to fourth in the running, before a late charge led by the brilliant Australian Cameron Meyer produced the winning break.
Six New Zealanders are in action on the penultimate day of competition, led by Dawkins in the quarterfinals of the men’s sprint. Also racing is former junior world champion Campbell Stewart in his first elite omnium, Bryony Botha and Kirstie James in the individual pursuit, while Micheala Drummond and Racquel Sheath team up in the Madison.
Day 3 Results:
Men Sprint Qualifying: Jeffrey Hoogland (NED) 9.674, 1; Matthew Gleatzer (AUS) 9,677, 2; Sebastien Vigier (FRA) 9.701, 3. Also NZers: Ethan Mitchell 9.805, 11; Eddie Dawkins 9.843, 13; Sam Webster 10.002, 24. Round 1: Mitchell beat Danian Zielinski (POL), Dawkins bt Martin Cechman (CZE), Melvin Landerneau (FRA) bt Webster. Round 2: Dawkins beat Harrie Lavreysen (NED), Mateusz Rudyk (POL) beat Mitchell.
Men Points Race (40km): Cameron Meyer (AUS) 70 points, 1; Jan Willen van Schip (NED) 52, 2; Mark Stewart (GBR) 49, 3. Also: Regan Gough 32, 9.
Women Omnium: Scratch: Kirsten Wild (NED) 1, Elisa Balsamo (ITA) 2, Laurie Berthom (FRA) 3. Also: Rushlee Buchanan 15. Tempo: Elinor Barker (GBR) 7 points, 1; Gudrun Stock (GER) 4, 2; Xiaofei Wang (CHN) 3. Also: Buchanan 13. Elimination: Wild 1, Jennifer Valente (USA) 2, Balsamo 3. Also: Buchanan 8. Points race: Buchanan 52 points, 1; Alexandra Goncharova (RUS) 42, 2; Amalie Dideriksen (DEN) 30, 3.
Overall: Wild 121 points, 1; Dideriksen 112, 2; Buchanan 106, 3.