Vantage New Zealand Elite team riders Kirstie James and Zac Williams stepped out of the shadows of their more illustrious teammates with telling performances on the second night of the UCI Oceania Track Championships in Cambridge. James made it three Oceania titles in two days with victory in the women’s 3000m individual pursuit to back up wins in the 4000m team pursuit and the Points Race on the opening day.
She put the pressure on in the second half of the race to beat off top qualifier and teammate Bryony Botha in the final of the individual pursuit. James clocked 3:33.835, which was four seconds faster than her morning qualifying ride, with Botha a second back, recording her second personal best of the day.
“I’m really satisfied with my results through the training block we have had and I have exceeded my expectations here,” James said. “I have always wanted to win a pursuit title. It is an event that shows your true form and true grit. It is the only race that can hurt you that much, so to back up after winning the Points race last night, I was really happy with that.”
“I’m also really impressed with how the girls in the team pursuit are going. For our first race since April, I am really happy with how we are coming together.”
Zac Williams set the morning session alight in qualifying when he clocked 1:00.447 which was the fastest time by a New Zealander at sea level, previously held by former World Championship medallist Matt Archibald. He also broke the New Zealand All Comers record held by London Olympic medallist Simon van Velthooven.
It was a New Zealand trifecta in the final with Williams forced to fight hard after an indifferent start that saw him half a second down through the first lap. He dug deep to power home in 1:00.825, his second time under the 1:01 barrier to head fellow Vantage elite Squad riders Bradly Knipe (1:01.429) and Nick Kergozou (1:01.517).
“I am absolutely stoked. The record this morning was a bit unexpected but to do that time and beating the guys I know that have gone sub 1:01 in New Zealand history is pretty cool,” said Williams. “It is hard doing two rides with the new format. You really have to dig deep in that second ride and nine times out of 10 it is never going to be as fast as the first one.”
“We had a few execution issues in that ride but I am still over the moon with the title. I knew it was going to be tight but I had to give it everything. I was seeing about four black lines around that last corner, but I got there and I am so happy.”
The much-vaunted Australians also shone, and none more so than world champion, Jordan Kerby who produced a ride of brilliance to win the men’s 4000m individual pursuit in 4:13.529, only a second outside his time in winning the world title. In doing so he smashed the New Zealand All Comers record set by the outstanding Jesse Sergent in 2012 by three seconds. New Zealand’s Jared Gray, a member of the world junior champion team pursuit this year, showed his undoubted future in finishing second in 4:23.736.
World Championship medallist Stephanie Morton, in-form after two silver medals at the recent World Cups in Europe, took out the women’s keirin after winning the team sprint on the first day.
New Zealand Olympian Natasha Hansen, back after injury, made a bold move off the front with two laps to go but Morton managed to roll over her on the final bend to win from the Kiwi and her team sprint winning teammate Kaarle McCulloch.
After finishing runner-up in the individual pursuit, New Zealand’s Bryony Botha attacked off the front of the pack in the women’s scratch race with Breanna Hargrave, with the Kiwi holding her off in the sprint for the win. South Australia’s Josh Harrison took out the all-Australian sprint finish to claim the men’s scratch race.
In the Under-19 action the Australians claimed the men’s team pursuit honours, while New Zealand’s Ally Wollaston enjoyed a superb night to win the 2000m individual pursuit and then won the double-points final sprint to claim the Points race.
Australian Thomas Cornish set an All Comers record in winning the 1000m time trial in 1:02.286 while Nelson’s Shaane Fulton continued her outstanding form to claim the Keirin honours.
Tomorrow’s penultimate day of elite action includes the exciting men’s individual sprint plus the omnium for men and women.
Women 3000m Individual Pursuit, Gold medal: Kirstie James (NZL) 3:33.835, 1; Bryony Botha (NZL) 3:34.745, 2. Bronze medal: Kristina Clonan (Queensland) 3:38.423, 3; Macey Stewart (Tasmania) 3:41.582, 4.
Men 4000m individual Pursuit, Gold Medal: Jordan Kerby (AUS) 4:13.529, 1 (All Comers Record); Jared Gray (NZL) 4:23.736, 2. Bronze medal: Conor Leahy (Western Australia) 4:22.430, 3; Ben Harvey (NSW) 4:22.735, 4.
Men 1000m Time Trial: Zac Williams (NZL) 1:00.825, 1; Bradly Knipe (NZL) 1:01.489, 2; Nick Kergozou (NZL) 1:01.517, 3.
Women Keirin: Stephanie Morton (AUS) 1, Natasha Hansen 2, Kaarle McCulloch (AUS) 3.
Women 10km Scratch Race: Bryony Botha (NZL) 1, Breanna Hargrave (South Australia) 2, Josie Talbot (NSW) 3.
Men 15km Scratch Race: Josh Harrison (South Australia) 1, Jordan Kerby (AUS) 2, Cameron Scott (AUS) 3.
Men 4000m Team Pursuit, Gold Medal: Australia 4:11.496, 1; New Zealand (Kianna Watts, Jarred Treymane, Bailey O’Donnell, Finn Fisher-Black) 4:15.081, 2. Bronze medal: New Zealand (Felix Donnelly, Griffyn Spencer, Lachlan Robertson, Jared Pidcock) 4:25.332, 3.
Women 2000m Individual Pursuit, Gold Medal: Ally Wollaston (NZL) 2:27.153, 1; Lauren Robards (ACT) 2:30.526, 2. Bronze Medal: McKenzie Milne (NZL) 2:30.515, 3; Annamarie Lipp (NZL) 2:31.793, 4.
Men 1000m Time Trial: Thomas Cornish (NSW) 1:02.286, 1 (NZ All Comers Record); Matthew Rice (ACT) 1:03.488, 2; Thomas Garbett (WCNI) 1:04.629, 3.
Women 10km Points Race: Ally Wollaston (NZL) 11 points, 1; Annamazrie Lipp (NZL) 9, 2; Lauren Robards (ACT) 8, 3.
Women Keirin Final: Shaane Fulton (NZL) 1, Madeleine Gough (Southland) 2, Skye Robson (Queensland) 3.
Men Scratch Race: Finn Fisher-Black (NZL) 1, George Jackson (Waikato BOP) 2, Tom Lynch (NSW) 3.