After a promising start, the opening day of the UCI Track World Championships proved a disappointment for the Vantage Elite New Zealand team in Poland.
The New Zealand men’s sprint team impressed to be third fastest in qualifying in 43.388s but they could not find the same level of execution in the first round, to miss out on the medal round.
Favourites Netherland won the gold medal and just missed out on the world record from France with Russia pipping Germany for the bronze and New Zealand settling for eighth.
Both the men’s and women’s team pursuit impressed in qualifying.
The men, without leading riders Regan Gough (injured) and Jordan Kerby (ineligible), were nonetheless fourth fastest in qualifying, clocking 3:56.603 in the process. Aiming for a top-five effort with an inexperienced squad, the Kiwi quartet could not match the pressure from top seeds Australia in the first round. Down to three riders midway through the 4000m event, they clocked 4:05.861.
Tomorrow Australia will take on Great Britain for the gold medal and Denmark against Canada for the Bronze.
The shining light came in the qualifying performance for the women’s team pursuit, who finished third fastest in 4:19.065 on the sluggish track, behind top seeds Australia and Great Britain.
The quartet of Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha, Holly Edmondston and Kirstie James produced some encouraging power outputs during the ride, and will face their first-round match on the second day of competition against Great Britain with Australia taking on Italy.
The winners of those two first round match-ups go directly to the final with the next fastest two times from the two losing teams and the remaining four nations to ride off for the bronze medal.
“Things started in promising fashion for us with the team pursuit qualifying but we could not follow this through in second rides” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“With some inexperienced riders in the men’s pursuit, we probably qualified more strongly that we expected but we were unable to back up that ride in the evening against a very powerful Australian team.
“Qualifying in the team sprint was good although still with improvements in execution. However Eddie Dawkins has been suffering from illness over the last few days and he spent all his energy in that first ride and had a tough time backing up.
“Accordingly we could not get the same level of execution that we had seen earlier in the season as a result.
“We were lucky that Racquel Sheath was not seriously injured in a nasty crash with a number of riders in the women’s scratch race and she will be able to race later in the week.
“The highlight was the team pursuit women who produced some record power levels and we are hopeful of a strong showing from them tomorrow and from our individual races later in the programme.”
Earlier the development women’s team sprint combination of Ellesse Andrews and Olivia Podmore were 15th in qualifying.
Tomorrow the women’s team pursuit compete in the first round chasing a spot in the medal ride; Dawkins is schedule to compete in the keirin, Podmore in the women’s sprint and Sexton in the men’s scratch race.
Men Team Pursuit, qualifying: Australia 3:52.152, 1; Great Britain 3:53.879, 2; Denmark 3:54.141, 3; New Zealand (Nick Kergozou, Campbell Stewart, Tom Sexton, Aaron Gate) 3:56.603, 4.
Women Team Pursuit, qualifying: Australia 4:14.915, 1; Great Britain 4:15.618, 2; New Zealand (Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha, Holly Edmondston, Kirstie James) 4:19.065, 3; Italy 4:20.065, 4.
Men Team Sprint, qualifying: Netherlands 42.574, 1; France 43.358, 2; New Zealand (Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins) 43.388, 3. First round: Netherlands 42.436, 1; France 43.086, 2; Germany 43.266, 3; Russia 43.547, 4. Also: New Zealand 43.997, 8.
Women Team Sprint, qualifying: Australia 32.492, 1; Russia 32.590, 2; Germany 32.802, 3; Lithuania 33.278, 4. Also: New Zealand (Ellesse Andrews, Olivia Podmore) 34.436, 15.