There was disappointment for the three-time world champion New Zealand men’s sprint team on day one of the UCI track cycling world championships in the Dutch city of Appeldoorn.
The trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins were fifth fastest in qualifying and later beaten by Great Britain in round one, which means they missed out on the medal round.
There was a different feeling for the women’s team sprint duo of Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming, whose fifth place was marked by a strong effort in round one clocking a New Zealand best of 33.453s.
“That was very pleasing and encouraging for the women’s programme,” said national sprint coach Anthony Peden. “They produced faultless rides from both of them and delivered what they are capable of and where they are in the world at the moment.
“That was a sensational fifth in the world which is the highest world ranking for women’s team sprint and the fastest they have gone.
“The team sprint is brutal and not much has to go wrong from the start for it to snowball and you can get exposed very quickly. Uncharacteristically the boys did not execute a ride close to their capability either individually or collectively.
“There is immense disappointment. They gave it everything but the execution wasn’t there.”
The men finished fifth fastest in qualifying in 43.736s, topped by hosts Netherlands in 42.869. They could not improve with a 43.434 effort in the first round up against Great Britain who qualified for the gold medal ride against the hosts.
“We also came here to kick on in the competition over the next few days and that’s what we have to do is to reset and show what we are capable of in the sprint, keirin and kilo,” said Peden.
The women’s team sprint qualified seventh fastest in qualifying in 33.867 with world champions Germany fastest in 32.640. They improved with their best ever time of 33.453 in the first round, and while pipped by Russia, it pushed them to fifth fastest in the world, faster than the likes of Great Britain.
Germany went on to win the title from hosts Netherlands with Russia third.
The women’s team pursuit of Racquel Sheath, Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha and Kirsty James qualified fourth fastest in qualifying in 4:23.500, riding conservatively at the start before finishing strongly. They will take on top qualifiers USA, with a place in the gold medal race at stake.
Things didn’t turn out quite so well for the men’s team pursuit of Nick Kergozou, Campbell Stewart, Regan Gough and Dylan Kennett.
Fifth fastest in qualifying in 3:57.622, New Zealand headed Canada in the first round with a time of 3.58.932, slowed when two riders touched wheels. While they did well to avoid a crash, they finished only 0.8s off qualifying for the bronze medal ride.
There were special celebrations from the home crowd, who saw the Dutch cycling team win two gold medals, in the women’s scratch event and the men’s team sprint, and securing the silver in the women’s team sprint.
Women’s Team Pursuit, qualifying: USA 4.18.836, 1; Great Britain 4.19.177, 2; Italy 4.21.543, 3; New Zealand (Racquel Sheath, Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha, Kirsty James) 4.23.530, 4
Women’s Team Sprint, qualifying: Germany 32.640, 1; Russian Federation 32.739, 2; China 33.210, 3; Netherlands 33.415, 4; Mexico 33.604; 5; Great Britain 33.624; 6; New Zealand (Natasha Hansen, Emma Cumming) 33.666, 7
Round 1: Germany 32.652, 1; Netherlands 32.958, 2; Russian Federation 32.987, 3; China 33.295, 4; New Zealand (Hansen, Cumming) 33.453, 5
Finals: Germany 1, Netherlands 2, Russian Federation 3, China 4
Men’s Team Pursuit, qualifying: Great Britain 3.55.714, 1; Italy 3.56.406, 2; Denmark 3.56. 740, 3; Germany 3.57.447, 4; New Zealand (Nick Kergozou, Campbell Stewart, Regan Gough, Dylan Kennett) 3.57.622, 5
Round 1: Denmark 3.54.496, 1; Great Britain 3.56.335, 2; Italy 3.54.884, 3; Germany 3.58.047, 4; New Zealand (Kergozou, Stewart, Gough, Kennett) 3.58.932, 5
Men’s Team Sprint, qualifying: Netherlands 42.869, 1; France 43.389, 2; Germany 43.452, 3; Great Britain 43.533 4; New Zealand (Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins) 43.736, 5; Russian Federation 43.905, 6
Round 1: Netherlands 43.234, 1; Great Britain 43.434, 2; Russian Federation 43.557, 3; France 43.737, 4; Germany 43.594, 5; New Zealand (Mitchell, Webster, Dawkins) 44.146, 6
Finals: Netherlands 1, Great Britain 2, France 3, Russian Federation 4
CAPTION: Bryony Botha leads the women’s team pursuit (WTP1), the men’s team sprint underway (MTS1) and Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen (WTS1) in action on the opening day of the UCI Track World Championships in the Netherlands. (Credit: Guy Swarbrick)