New Zealand’s track cyclists put aside a challenging Rio Olympics to finish with a record equalling five medals at the UCI World Championships in Hong Kong. This equalled the five medals won at the world championships in Melbourne in 2012 and Cali in 2014, although importantly all five medals were achieved in Olympic events.
New Zealand finished equal second on the medal table only behind Australia and along with France, Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. The success was led by the men’s sprint programme under coach Anthony Peden, who won gold in the team sprint for the third time in four years, and earned their first individual sprint medal to Ethan Mitchell. The other medal successes went to a reinvigorated Aaron Gate in the new-look omnium and to the men’s and women’s team pursuit combinations.
Cycling New Zealand CEO and acting High Performance Director, Andrew Matheson said it had been pleasing to see the squad enthused after seeing the benefits from a post-Olympic rethink. “We’ve seen a good process post Rio to reset some of our thinking, planning and overall programme alignment,” Matheson said. “These championships have been very useful in building a strong platform for the next three years and building some real confidence in our strategies.”
The programme also blooded some new young riders who have experienced a world championship and the challenges to success at this level. “While we often look further ahead in our goals and planning, we can’t forget that this was a World Championship with the best riders on the globe competing and to achieve success here has been outstanding.”
There were no further additions to the medal count on the final day with Kiwis competing in the men’s 1000m Time Trial and women’s Points race. Dylan Kennett, a member of the silver medal winning team pursuit, showed his abilities against the sprinters to place sixth in the time trial. He was the fastest rider over the final two laps to finish in 1:01.324, only 0.6s behind Frenchman Francois Pervis who won the title for a fourth time.
In earlier qualifying Kennett went 1:01.171 to be sixth fastest, Nick Kergozou was ninth fastest (1:01.303) and Zac Williams 10th fastest (1:01.317), with the top eight riding for the medals in the evening programme.
Racquel Sheath, part of the bronze medal-winning women’s team pursuit, finished 14th in the Points race won by Great Britain’s Elinor Barker.
Next year’s world championships will be staged at Apeldoorn in the Netherlands which hosted the event in 2011.