The sprinters led the way for New Zealand on the final day of the opening UCI Track World Cup in Paris.
Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster both rode close to personal bests in a white-hot qualifying session at the Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines track, with Webster edged in the quarterfinal by double world champion Jeffrey Hoogland (NED).
The Kiwi women continued their excellent early season with Natasha Hansen finishing fifth in the final of the keirin after two strong rides in the early round and semifinal.
It completed a first-up World Cup with plenty of positives especially for the New Zealand female riders, as the Vantage elite New Zealand team cross the Atlantic for the second round of the World Cup in Milton, Canada starting on Thursday.
“It was a mixed tale for the Vantage New Zealand team but it is fair to say the women have paved the way here.
“We had some breakthrough performances with the women’s team pursuiting with a strong second place and a national record,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“The women’s team sprint finished fourth which is their best result and indicative that the policy of qualifying for the Olympics through the team sprint is a valuable one. From this Emma Cumming had some stellar performances in the team sprint and in the individual sprint which bodes well.”
Barras said the high point in the men’s racing was the performance of Eddie Dawkins.
“He was so close to winning the keirin here and is racing with poise and composure. You can see by his demeanour that Eddie is in a good place.”
However, the mechanical issue when Sam Webster’s foot became unclipped was a disappointment.
“The mechanical issue was pretty much unforeseeable although we are working on a solution already. It was a setback because the plan was to start the World Cup season on a strong footing to get our Olympic qualification off to a good start. We will now reassess and may have to look at another event later in the season to make up for this missed opportunity.
“There were encouraging performances in the sprint qualifying from Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster although the men’s endurance has work to be done which will be tested again next weekend in Milton.”
Barras said that the Cycling New Zealand campaign, with a number of new staff coming together for the first time, delivered the event better than he has witnessed in his first year in the role.
Mitchell clocked 9.679s in qualifying for the individual sprint in eighth fastest, and only 0.02s off his personal best with Webster’s 9.716s effort 12thfastest.
Mitchell was somewhat controversially relegated for not holding his line in his first-round win, which Barras said was not seemingly ruled consistently throughout the competition.
Webster rode splendidly especially in his second win over hometown favourite in nine-time World champion, Gregory Bauge although he was beaten in two straight rides by Dutchman Jeffrey Hoogland, a double current world champion, in the quarterfinal.
Hansen was strong in making the women’s keirin final where a number of big names were beaten. She controlled things well in her first round to ride home just behind Hong Kong’s Wai Sze Lee and produced an excellent and aggressive semifinal to finish second behind current world champion Nicky Degrendele (BEL).
“The final was hard. Everyone was a strong attacking rider so it was about trying to make your move hard and fast and get to the front early. That move didn’t quite pay off for me this time with a tough draw,” said Hansen. “I tried to be aggressive in the final but everyone is racing that much harder.
“This first World Cup was successful for Emma and myself in the team sprint and it was great for Emma to PB but I was still a little off my best.
“I was happy for Emma to be stepping up and as a team we have managed to build from our good form from the Commonwealth Games. We are starting in a good position going forward and looking forward to Milton.”
In other rides Racquel Sheath was 10th overall in the four-event omnium, with sixth in the elimination and eighth in the scratch race her best, while Campbell Stewart and Harry Waine were 17th in the two-rider Madison.
The second Tissot UCI World Cup is in Milton, Canada starting on Thursday, with the next two rounds in Berlin and London in December, before the penultimate stop on home turf in Cambridge in January.
Men individual sprint qualifying: Harrie Lavreysen (NED) 9.492, 1; Matt Glaetzer (AUS) 9.502, 2; Jeffrey Hoogland (NED) 9.555, 3. Also NZers: Ethan Mitchell 9.679, 8; Sam Webster 9.716, 12.
Round 1: Eric Engler bt Ethan Mitchell (relegated); Sam Webster bt Mohd Awang (MAS). Round 2: Webster bt Gregory Bauge. Quarterfinal: Lavreysen bt Maximillian Levy (GER) 2-0; Glaetzer bt Jack Carlin (GBR) 2-0; Hoogland bt Webster 2-0; Mateusz Rudyk (POL) bt Joe Truman (GBR) 2-0. Semifinal: Lavreysen bt Rudyk 2-0; Glaetzer bt Hoogland 2-1. Gold: Glaetzer bt Lavreysen 2-1. Bronze: Hoogland bt Rudyk 2-0.
Women keirin, round 1, heat 3: Wai Sze Lee (HKG) 1, Natasha Hansen (NZL) 2. Semifinal, heat 1: Nicky Degrendele (BEL) 1, Hansen 2, Laurine van Riessen (NED) 3. Heat 2: Lee 1, Simona Krupeckaite (LTU) 2; Daria Shmeleva (RUS) 3. Final: Van Riessen 1, Shmeleva 2, Lee 3. Also: Hansen 5.
Women omnium, scratch race (7.5km): Ina Savenka (BLR) 1, Kirsten Wild (NED) 2, Evgenia Augustinas (RUS) 3. Also: Racquel Sheath (NZL) 8. Tempo Race (7.5km): Anna Nahirna (UKR) 6 points, 1; Neah Evans (GBR) 4, 2; Letizia Paternoster (ITA) 4, 3. Also: Sheath 0, 13. Elimination: Wild 1, Paternoster 2, Augustinas 3. Also: Sheath 6. Points race (20km): Nahirna 21 points, 1; Wild 13, 2; Evans 11, 3. Also: Sheath 0, 10. Overall: Wild 125, 1; Paternoster 116, 2; Evans 10-9, 3. Also: Sheath 72, 10.
Women Scratch race (10km): Ashlee Ankudinoff (AUS) 1, Megan Barker (GBR) 2, Daria Pikulik (POL) 3. Also: Holly Edmondston (NZL) 8.
Men Madison (30km): Denmark (Lasse Norman Hansen, Michael Morkov) 39 points, 1; Poland 19, 2, Australia 17, 3. Also: New Zealand (Campbell Stewart, Harry Waine) 17.