New Zealand’s women have won the team pursuit gold medal at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup at the Avantidrome; with another national record.  The Kiwis disposed of the Australian world champions, with Canada taking the bronze medal ahead of the Subway New Zealand Track Team.

The battle for bronze saw the Subway New Zealand quartet of Racquel Sheath, Ally Wollaston, Nicole Shields and Emily Shearman go up against Canada and it was the experience of the Canadians that quickly put them in the driving seat early on.  They went through the first kilometre in 1.08.252 with the Kiwis almost 2 seconds down but with plenty of space to recover.  

The Kiwi quartet did just that as they set about progressively closing the gap in the second kilometre to just a second and beginning to really challenge for the final step on the podium.  Over the third kilometre the time gap began to creep up again but the Kiwis remained in contention even as they lost one rider.  It was the final kilometre that Canada proved their match-winning worth, however, keeping the New Zealand squad at bay before building their lead in the final lap to stop the clock in 4.18.169mins to the Kiwis 4.20.066mins.

The atmosphere was building in anticipation of the gold medal match between Australia and New Zealand, with hopes of New Zealand being able to replicate or even better their national record ride in qualifying of 4.14.483mins that already took over 1.5 seconds off of the previous national record. 

Kirstie James got the women’s team pursuit quartet started against the world champion Australians.  Holly Edmondston, Rushlee Buchanan and Bryony Botha along with her kept the Australians in a very close battle from the start, hitting 56-57kph and going through the first kilometre in the lead.  That lead began to open up in the second kilometre but the time gap was still minimal and with all to play for.

At the 2km mark the gap was out to 0.428 seconds, with New Zealand continuing to make good progress over the ride and even gaining a little more.  There was a sense that Australia might fight back in the final kilometre, but as New Zealand went down to three riders – with Kirstie James dropping off the pace – the gap to their Trans-Tasman rivals went over a second.  Onwards through 1.577 seconds after 3000m, the Kiwis kept on pushing and gaining over the Australian team who maintained four riders.

Into the final lap three riders remained and with a 1.46 second advantage it looked like a roof-raising performance that would end in gold.  New Zealand stopped the clock in 4.10.705 mins, just half a second shy of the world record!  Buchanan, Botha and Holly Edmondston punched the air in delight at having recorded the second fastest time in history.

Upon stopping they embraced and were joined by Kirstie James, and congratulated by their Australian rivals and Subway New Zealand teammates.

Hansen and Podmore qualify for gold medal ride

Shortly afterwards New Zealand won their first round contest to qualify for the gold medal match in the women’s team sprint.  Olivia Podmore and Natasha Hansen overcame Colombia in their round and were 0.575 seconds up after the first lap.  Hansen brought the ride home in style to stop the clock in 32.794 seconds; 1.038 seconds faster than Colombia in a performance that guaranteed a gold medal ride against Poland.

Gazprom-Rusvelo and Australia would go head-to-head for bronze.

Photo: Guy Swarbrick

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