Five young riders will get their chance to compete at the highest level in next month’s UCI Track World Cup in Cambridge.
Cycling New Zealand opened up the opportunity for two Trade Teams to be added in the penultimate World Cup competition, likely to take on riders from more than 30 nations at the Avantidrome on 18-20 January.
“We have a strong development programme with our Subway Performance Hubs as well as some young riders who have moved here to Cambridge and we wanted to signal to them and the sport that we are serious about giving them opportunities,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“We decided to do this with a series of time trials over different distances and formats to simulate performances required in a team sprint. And the fastest in each of these was selected.”
“This was a success with the attendance and also the way the riders addressed the opportunity presented to them. And what was special was that our elite trio of male riders, who are already selected for January, came in and put down some world class performances in front of everyone which helped to raise the level.”
Barras said the competition was tight and impressive with a number of personal bests set, signalling out Zac Williams for his outstanding performances today.
Williams, Auckland’s Sam Dakin and Southland’s Bradly Knipe will form the men’s trade team while Commonwealth Games rider Olivia Podmore will be joined by former Australian Tahlay Christie, who is a member of the Grassroots Trust Waikato Bay of Plenty Performance Hub in the women’s team.
“It was a fantastic day to let everyone have a crack. It is my first World Cup which is pretty awesome and to do it in front of friends and family is going to be pretty fantastic but the hard work is only just going to start,” said Dakin.
“I was happy with my start. It was tight competition and everyone was really close. I am excited to be racing in front of my home crowd in a World Cup,” said Knipe.
“We have not done many of these and it was a level playing field,” said Williams. “It was clear cut and did not bring opinion in – we are a sport of numbers so it was the ideal way to run it.”
Christie said it was exciting that she would be making her World Cup debut in her new home across the Tasman.
“I had been recovering from an injury and was not snappy in the warmup. But when I heard the countdown it got me riled up,” said Christie. “I always thought the first time I would ride a World Cup would be as an Australian and now I am going to do it as a Kiwi; home crowd is going to have a whole new meaning.”
For Podmore it is a chance to further press her claims in what will be her third World Cup competition, but her first time at home.
“I was happy to execute a good time with gearing I would have as a second wheel rider,” said Podmore. “I went faster than I did at the Commonwealth Games which is good.”
“It was a super-exciting vibe out there today and everyone going out and giving it the jandal.”
Barras was happy with the trials concept and what it signals for the programme.
“The riders understood that we are trying to open the doors and make it transparent and indicating that the national team is in business and interested in people coming in to join us for all the right reasons.”
“I look forward to see how these young teams are going to handle the opportunity that they are given for the World Cup here in Cambridge on 18-20 January.”
Standing 250m: Tahlay Christie (WaiBOP Hub) 19.791, 1; Olivia Podmore (New Zealand) 19.861, 2; Tess Young (WaiBOP Hub) 20.315, 3.
Flying 200m time trial: Podmore 10.973, 1; Christie 11.295, 2; Young 11.339, 3.
Standing 250m time trial: Bradly Knipe (New Zealand) 17.839, 1; Zac Williams (New Zealand) 18.128, 2; Sam Dakin (WaiBOP Hub) 18.154, 3.
Flying 200m time trial: Williams 10.099, 1; Callum Saunders (WaiBOP Hub) 10.155, 2; Jackson Ogle (WaiBOP Hub) 10.204, 3.
Flying 500m time trial: Williams 26.15, 1; Knipe 26.79, 2; Dakin 26.81, 3.