The New Zealand team face record numbers and sticky conditions in their quest for medals at the UCI Track Cycling Championships in the Netherlands starting on Thursday (NZ time).
While temperatures outdoors could drop as low as minus 8C deg at Apeldoorn, the temperatures inside are in the high 20C deg, producing a super slick surface that have been conducive to stunning times in training. The Vantage Elite New Zealand team has settled well, with the endurance team arriving earlier this week while the sprint contingent had their final preparation at nearby Grenchen in Switzerland last week.
“At this stage everything has gone well. The sprint team were hosted superbly in Switzerland where they got in some good training and racing,” said Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director, Martin Barras. “The endurance squad arrived a little later from New Zealand and have settled well here.
“It has been a little more humid than expected inside the track but it is around zero and forecasted to get colder outside. That is producing a sticky track. All the teams are of course going fast at a world championship but conditions are making for even faster times.”
Even though last year’s leading nation Australia has only sent a handful of riders, as they bypass the championships to focus on the Commonwealth Games, there are still 411 riders competing.
“We are crammed on the infield. We used to think that 275 riders was a busy event but such is the development of track cycling the big numbers make for a very tight infield.”
The championships get underway with the key Olympic events of team pursuit and team sprint in action on the opening day. The team pursuit quartet of Dylan Kennett, Regan Gough, Campbell Stewart and Nic Kergozou will complete the men’s qualifying, while Rushlee Buchanan, Kirstie James, Bryony Botha and Racquel Sheath will take on qualifying in the women, both in the afternoon session.
The men’s and women’s team sprint compete qualifying and medal rounds on the evening programme, with the fastest four through to the medal rounds. The world champion trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins will defend their title in the men’s event, while Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen team up in the women.
The Vantage New Zealand team is:
Sprint: Jordan Castle (Manawatu), Emma Cumming (Southland), Eddie Dawkins (Southland), Natasha Hansen (Southland), Bradly Knipe (Southland), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Sam Webster (Auckland).
Endurance: Bryony Botha (Auckland), Rushlee Buchanan (Waikato), Michaela Drummond (Manawatu), Regan Gough (Hawkes Bay), Dylan Kennett (South Canterbury), Nick Kergozou (Southland), Kirstie James (Southland), Tom Sexton (Southland), Racquel Sheath (Waikato), Campbell Stewart (Manawatu).