The New Zealand junior men’s team pursuit squad have won gold at the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Aigle, Switzerland. The quartet of Bailey O’Donnell, Finn Fisher-Black, George Jackson and Corbin Strong claimed the gold in style with a fantastic final turn of pace in the closing kilometre. The women’s quartet followed that world title with a hard earned silver medal.
Up first in the second day of racing for the junior track world championships was the first round of the women’s team pursuit. After a strong ride in qualifying yesterday, the quartet of McKenzie Milne, Sami Donnelly, Annemarie Lipp and Ally Wollaston went up against Australia in the first round with a place in the gold medal final up for grabs. After a very strong second half of the race New Zealand finally stopped the clock in 4.31.216mins, the fastest time of the competition so far and a guarantee of at least the silver medal.
The men’s team pursuit medal finals pitted Australia against Italy first of all in the bronze medal ride. After gaining a huge advantage early on Italy pegged the Australians back significantly to push them all the way to the line. But it was Australia who took the bronze medal in 4.05.731mins.
The gold medal ride saw New Zealand tackle France. New Zealand, represented by Bailey O’Donnell, Finn Fisher-Black, George Jackson and Corbin Strong had been impressive in qualifying and they got off to a strong start, matching France lap for lap in the opening kilometre in a very tight head-to-head battle. At the end of the first kilometre France had a minor lead of just 1 tenth of a second.
At 1800m New Zealand had a fractional lead and at 2km they had the advantage of 0.1 seconds; as George Jackson pulled away and left the Kiwis with a numerical disadvantage as the French outfit held on to four riders for a little longer. Shortly though, the French were also down to three riders, and from here the race began to open up as the Kiwis stretched their lead to over half a second at 3km. From here, though the strength of the New Zealand outfit shone through as they quickly built to upwards of 2 seconds advantage and finally stopped the clock 3.373 seconds faster in a time of 4.01.685mins.
The women’s team pursuit finals saw Great Britain claim the bronze medal ahead of Australia, with Italy taking on New Zealand in the battle for gold. Starting in the back straight, the Kiwi quartet of Milne, Lipp, Donnelly and Wollaston eventually got underway after an early false start from Italy; and New Zealand began strongly, going close to half a second up in the first 500m. Towards the end of the first 1km the gap levelled out though and Italy then took the lead and put in a very strong second kilometre to go more than a second faster than the Kiwis and hit 2000m 1.7 seconds to the good.
The gap continued to grow in favour of Italy in the third kilometre and as against Australia, New Zealand went down to 3 riders early, but there was little they could do to stop the rampaging Italian team as their lead stretched to over 4 seconds and the catch was finally made to New Zealand as Italy began their final lap; claiming the gold medal while New Zealand came away with a hard-earned silver.