Cycling New Zealand has named a powerful 31-strong Vantage Elite team to contest the Oceania Track Championships at Invercargill on 16-19 October.
The championships offer important qualifying spots for next year’s UCI World Championships and act as a shakedown ahead of the all-important UCI Track World Cup season, highlighted when New Zealand hosts the fourth round at Cambridge on 6-8 December.
Cycling New Zealand has included many of its proven Olympic stars, headed by omnium world champion Campbell Stewart, along with a number of the emerging riders who have pushed into the elite reckoning.
“This is the start of competition of a massively important 12 months ahead for the high performance squad,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“This is the first hit-out and there are different goals for each group. For some this offers important qualifying spots and ranking points for the world championships.
“All of the riders have been working hard in building a base on the roads, in the gym and on the track with the Oceania Championships providing a litmus test to judge where they are at and what needs to be done going forward.
“The upcoming World Cup series, especially the home event in Cambridge in December, will be massively important for us to secure our spots for the Tokyo Olympics, so the flag drops at the Oceania Championship for the race that will ultimately be run in Japan next year.”
The seven-strong women’s endurance squad includes world championship bronze medallists Rushlee Buchanan, Kirstie James, Michaela Drummond and Holly Edmondston, with Racquel Sheath and Bryony Botha rested.
The men’s endurance squad includes Stewart, 2019 world championship scratch bronze medallist Tom Sexton and 2015 team pursuit world champion Regan Gough. It includes the first official appearance for New Zealand for former individual pursuit world champion Jordan Kerby, since the completion of his exclusion period after transferring from Australia. He has competed in World Cup competition for the Vantage elite team.
There are a number of talented younger riders who have tasted international success through the junior ranks, including 2018 junior team pursuit world champion George Jackson, who are thirsting for their opportunity.
The trio of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster head a powerful male sprint group while Natasha Hansen returns to her former base at the SIT ZeroFees Velodrome to head the women’s sprint group which includes former Wanaka-based rider Ellesse Andrews, the junior world pursuit record holder, now converted to the sprint ranks.
The Vantage New Zealand team is:
Female, endurance: Rushlee Buchanan, Michaela Drummond, Holly Edmondston, Jessie Hodges, Kirstie James, Emily Shearman, Nicole Shields.
Sprint: Ellesse Andrews, Natasha Hansen, Olivia Podmore.
Male, endurance: Regan Gough, George Jackson, Hugo Jones, Jordan Kerby, Nick Kergozou, Bailey O’Donnell, Josh Scott, Tom Sexton, Conor Shearing, Campbell Stewart, Jarred Treymane, Harry Waine, Kiaan Watts.
Sprint: Jordan Castle, Sam Dakin, Eddie Dawkins, Bradly Knipe, Ethan Mitchell, Callum Saunders, Sam Webster, Zac Williams.