The reality is sinking in for our New Zealand women that they’ve produced the best times in our history in both team pursuit and team sprint competitions to win gold on day 1 of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup.
The women’s team pursuit combination of Rushlee Buchanan, Holly Edmondston, Bryony Botha and Kirstie James were on fire in their final against world champions, Australia.
The New Zealand team produced a prodigious best time to claim the gold medal in the 4000m team pursuit in 4:10.705 which was only half a second outside the world record set by Great Britain at the Rio Olympics.
Their time was more than five seconds inside their own New Zealand record set on the Avantidrome track at the UCI Track World Cup in January this year.
Both teams were locked together through 1000m with New Zealand edging half a second ahead at the midway point. They made a big move to open a 1.5 second buffer at 3000m and with both teams down to three riders, the Kiwis roared home with Australia also bagging a personal best 4:12.460 for second.
“To be honest that time has not sunk in. I looked at the board when we crossed the finish line and it was bitter-sweet – like holy cow did we just do that time but oh man it was so close to the world record,” said Buchanan.
“It is awesome to do that with the girls and and for our coach Ross and our whole crew and a testament to the work we have done. But by no means is this the end, it is only the beginning. We are really excited about pushing the boat out further.”
Canada (4:18.169) claimed the bronze medal over the Subway New Zealand trade team, comprising New Zealand’s young development combination, who clocked 4:20.066.
The pursuiters’ achievements were matched by new kiwi women’s team sprint combination, Olivia Podmore and Natasha Hansen, who broke new ground in Cambridge.
They became the first Kiwi duo to go under 33 seconds, setting a new national record of 32.794secs in the first round before clocking 32.877 in the gold medal ride to pip Poland by just two one hundredths of a second.
Podmore and Hansen were also fastest in qualifying, remarkable given their lack of time together.
“We’ve actually never ridden this combination before in a World Cup and I haven’t ridden the team sprint since January just with injuries and things like that,” Hansen said.
But they knew they had to click, with Olympic qualifying points on the line.
“There was a strong sense of pressure amongst the whole squad for the last week so it was really nice for us to be able to execute a strong ride under all that pressure.
“For us to qualify for Tokyo and carry on the momentum and actually be really competitive…then we need to be feeling the pressure and be able to perform under that situation.”
“It felt like a long time coming and just such a testament to the hard work that we’ve put in, that Rene [Wolff] has put in and that we’ve put in as a team. It’s just so exciting to get the result in the end,” Podmore said.
Russian trade team Gazprom-Rusvelo denied Australia the bronze medal.