Vantage New Zealand sprinters Olivia Podmore and Sam Webster gained the honours among the fast-twitch cycling community, while the Australians claimed both the male and female honours in the omnium on the second night of the Oceania track cycling championships.

The 22-year-old Podmore gave a reminder of her talents with victory in the 500m time trial final, while Webster prevailed in a third and deciding race over Vantage teammate Eddie Dawkins in a thrilling sprint series at Invercargill’s SIT Zero Fees Velodrome.

Much attention focussed on the four-discipline omnium competition where multi-world champion Australians Amy Cure and Sam Welsford took the female and male titles against heralded Kiwi competition.

Cure, a three-time world champion, was a class above to take out the women’s omnium while current scratch and team pursuit world champion, Welsford held off a stern challenge from current omnium world champion, kiwi Campbell Stewart in the men.

Podmore, from Canterbury, edged out her team sprint partner Ellesse Andrews for the win in the time trial with Waikato rider Shaane Fulton third.

“I was really happy with my first ride this morning. I was really close to the national record but this afternoon I was feeling pretty fatigued, so I did what I could and pulled through with the win, so I’m really happy,” Podmore said.

“We’ve come through a pretty tough strength phase and we are coming towards the end of it now. We are training through this competition, but we’ve definitely come here with some speed, so I’m looking forward to the next couple of days’ racing.”

Podmore said she was excited about her combination with Andrews after they finished second to the world champion Australian pairing of Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton on the opening night of the championship.

Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins had the crowd going in a three-round sprint finale, photo Eugene Bonthuys

Neither of New Zealand’s two highest ranked sprinters, Natasha Hansen and Emma Cumming, are riding this week.

“For me, really, it was a team sprint focus so I was really happy yesterday to put down a good performance with my teammate Ellesse. We haven’t been riding together for that long but it was super exciting to put down a good time for us.”

Cure was all class on the way to winning the elite women’s omnium. The Australian won the scratch race, tempo and elimination rides before comfortably accounting for the field in the points race.

“I wasn’t sure how I was going to go here. I’ve been a bit up and down lately. I set myself up early by getting some wins and I had a good buffer going into that points race. I don’t mind a points race, it’s always tough but I just went in there and just treated it like any other points race.”

Welsford also dominated the elite men’s omnium, winning the first three events and then taking out the final sprint in the points race ahead of Stewart to secure victory.

The Australian was made to work hard by a New Zealand trio of Stewart, Regan Gough and Corbin Strong, with only nine points separating the top three riders heading into the final 10 laps of the points race.

“I enjoy racing against the New Zealanders. It is always good and fair racing between us and it really enjoyable. I was happy with my form so early in the season,” said Welsford.

Throughout the day the male sprinters turned in some impressive displays with nine male sprinters under the 10-second barrier in qualifying, led by Australian Nathan Hart in 9.75s followed by local star Dawkins, 2018 world champion Matthew Glaetzer and Webster – all less than 0.04s behind.

However Hart was upset in a third and deciding ride in the quarterfinal by Vantage elite New Zealand squad rider, Jordan Castle. And it was a similar story for Glaetzer who was upset in a third-race decider against compatriot Tom Clarke.

Dawkins and Webster prevailed in two-straight wins before they pushed eachother to a third and deciding race in the final, producing a brilliant race where Webster’s race-craft proved decisive in a high-class affair more than 12 hours after they began competition. There was a Kiwi trifecta with Castle winning the ride for third.

New Zealand’s Jenna Borthwick won the junior women’s 2000m individual pursuit and was third in the 500m time trial, with compatriot Jack Carswell, owner of the world’s best time for an under-17 rider, claiming the junior men’s 3000m individual pursuit title. 

Carswell and Canterbury’s double junior world champion, Laurence Pithie both went under the championship record in the final, with Carswell smashing the previous mark by nearly 3sec.

Reuben Webster led home a New Zealand trifecta in the junior men’s 1000m time trial, with a winning time of 1min 04.694sec.

The Oceania championships, which has attracted 180 riders from Australia and New Zealand, continues today including the elite women’s keirin, 3000m individual pursuit and points race; the elite men’s 4000m individual pursuit, 1000m time trial and points race. The junior women will compete in the omnium and keirin and junior men will ride the omnium, sprint, omnium, and points race.

Title photo: Dianne Manson

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