The Vantage New Zealand team pursuit combinations made a solid start to the second UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Milton, Canada today.
The women’s 4000m team pursuit were third fastest in qualifying and will have the opportunity to chase a spot in their second straight final if they can overcome Italy in the first-round tomorrow. The men’s team pursuit combination was fifth fastest in their qualifying in a remarkable session where only 0.3 seconds separated the top five teams, virtually unheard of over the 4km of racing.
The women took to the track with a revamped line-up following the decision for regular starter Racquel Sheath to compete at the London Six-Day event, where she will hone her Madison skills with Michaela Drummond. Ellesse Andrews was brought in for Holly Edmondston, who became ill after making a significant return after a year away from the sport with injury.
They started conservatively but were competitive at the 3000m mark, only 0.4s down on Italy and one second on Great Britain, but they fell off the pace over the final 1000m.
New Zealand will ride off against Italy in the first-round tomorrow, with the winner progressing directly to the gold medal ride, as will Great Britain against Germany.
The fastest of the two losing teams and the remaining four teams ranked fifth to eighth will go through to ride for the bronze medal.
Both Italian and New Zealand combinations recorded similar times throughout the weekend in Paris, with the Vantage elite team claiming the silver medal, ahead of the Italians, with the bronze.
The men started conservatively to be 10th fastest with an opening 1000m of 1:04 but gradually improved with each of the next 1000m in 57 seconds. Their final 57.254 effort was the fastest of all teams, but their 3:56.986 was an agonising 0.309s from the top qualifier and 0.006s from getting a shot at making it into the final.
It means they will ride off against Germany tomorrow in the first round where they will need to be among the two fastest from the four teams ranked fifth to eighth in qualifying and the losing semi-finalists to make it into the bronze medal race.
Also, in action tomorrow is the men’s and women’s team sprint, who face qualifying, round one and hopefully the medal ride all within one day and if fit, Edmondston in the scratch race.
Women 4000m team pursuit, qualifying: Great Britain 4:18.962, 1; Italy 4:20.570, 2; New Zealand (Ellesse Andrews, Kirstie James, Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha) 4:23.110, 3; Germany 4:23.290, 4.
Men 4000m team pursuit, qualifying: Great Britain No 2 3:56.628, 1; Great Britain No 1, 3:56.672, 2; Denmark 3:56.885, 3; Canada 3:56.931, 4; New Zealand (Regan Gough, Jordan Kerby, Nick Kergozou, Campbell Stewart) 3:56.986, 5.