Commonwealth Games-bound Jared Gray has claimed the men’s individual pursuit title on the opening night of the Vantage Elite and Under 19 track national championships in Invercargill.
The Waikato-Bay of Plenty rider despatched Canterbury’s Josh Scott in the final, with 2015 Tour of Southland winner Brad Evans (Otago) winning the bronze medal from Cantabrian Hugo Jones when he overtook him on the final lap.
With his sights set firmly on the big show on the Gold Coast in April, Gray counted his elite title as another quality step in his season progression. “I’ve come in here with a bit of load in the legs because my focus is the Comm Games, so I wasn’t on top form. The track wasn’t running super-fast, but I was pretty happy with my times which were pretty consistent – two solid training rides,” he said.
Gray admitted that being named in the large New Zealand cycling team for the Commonwealth Games still felt a little surreal. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet because it was named just before I came down here. I think once I get on the plane it will start to sink in, I’m pretty excited.”
Gray, who will also ride the points race and scratch race this week, would certainly have been an easy rider for the selectors to notice, especially sporting the sort of quality mullet hairstyle previously made famous in New Zealand cycling circles by Shane Archbold. “I’m pleased you noticed that. I’ve been growing it for about a year or so now. I’m not sure when I’ll stop growing it. I love the mullet – no one else really has one, so it’s good to be a bit different.”
With the world championships starting in the Netherlands later this month, a host of New Zealand’s top track riders are unavailable for this week’s national championships at Invercargill’s SIT Velodrome, giving a new brigade of cyclists a chance to show their wares.
Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Tess Young took out the elite women’s 500m time trial, with Auckland’s Sam Dakin winning the elite men’s 1000m time trial. Waikato-Bay of Plenty’s Kiaan Watts completed an exciting first night’s racing by taking out the under 19 men’s 10km scratch race from local rider Hamish Keast, who showed plenty of character to get back into the race after a crash, and Finn Fisher-Black (Tasman).
Results Vantage Windows and Doors Elite and Under 19 track national championships, Day one:
Paracyclist Women (C1-5) 500m time trial: Kate Horan (Wellington) 40.249 1; Nicole Murray (Wai-BOP) 40.707 2; Nikita Howarth (Wai-BOP) 42.859 3.
Paracyclist Men (C1-3) 1000m time trial: Nau Puriri (Northland) 1:26.671 1.
Paracyclist Men (C4-5) 1000m time trial: Byron Raubenheimer (Auckland) 1:11.846 1.
Paracyclist Women (tandem) 1000m time trial: Amanda Cameron and Hannah van Kampen (Wai-BOP) 1:11.583 1; Hannah Pascoe and Nina Wollaston (Southland) 1:15.898 2.
U19 Women 500m time trial: Sophie-Leigh Bloxham (Southland) 36.332 1; Shaane Fulton (Tasman) 36.4082 2; Nicole Marshall (Southland) 36.542 3.
U19 Men 1000m time trial: Thomas Garbett (WCNI) 1:04.583 1; Conor Shearing (Southland) 1:04.646 2; George Jackson (Wai-BOP) 1:05.460 3.
U19 Women 2000m individual pursuit: Ally Wollaston 2:28.083 1; McKenzie Milne (Wai-BOP) 2:31.083 2; Annamarie Lipp (Canterbury) 2:31.243 3.
U19 Men 10km scratch race: Kiaan Watts (Wai-BOP) 1; Hamish Keast (Southland) 2; Finn Fisher-Black (Tasman) 3.
Elite Women 500m time trial: Tess Young (Wai-BOP) 35.621 1; Olivia Ray (Auckland) 36.700 2; Jaymie King (Wai-BOP) 37.215 3.
Elite men 4000m individual pursuit: Jared Gray (Wai-BOP) 4:26.000 1; Josh Scott (Canterbury) 4:26.545 3.
Elite Men 1000m time trial: Sam Dakin (Auckland) 1:01.975 1; Jackson Ogle (Wai-BOP) 1:02.575) 2; Callum Saunders (Wai-BOP) 1:03.151 3.