New Zealand came away with three medals over the weekend at the UCI Track World Cup in Hong Kong with success over the men’s and women’s endurance programmes. Campbell Stewart and Tom Sexton led the way with stirring performance in the men’s Madison that saw them claim the gold medal.
Women’s team pursuit
The burgeoning depth of women’s track cycling emerged with a bronze medal ride by the development team pursuit combination of Ellesse Andrews, Michaela Drummond, Emily Shearman and Lauren Ellis.
The quartet finished fourth at the World Cup in Cambridge in Subway Trade Team colours behind the winning New Zealand team, but they went one better with a podium effort in Hong Kong.
They qualified third fastest in 4:25.140 just ahead of Australia, but were edged out by the slimmest margin in their first-round clash against Germany, pipped by 0.3sec for a spot for the gold medal ride. There was never more than a fraction of a second separating the two teams with New Zealand edged in the final lap.
New Zealand responded with a dominant display in the ride for third and fourth, clocking 4:21.331, a time only bettered by gold medallists Italy, to power home over France to earn the bronze medal.
Campbell Stewart again gave a glimpse of his outstanding talent with a podium placing in the omnium. Stewart finished third in a tight battle behind nine-time world champion Cameron Meyer (Australia) and the 2017 omnium and madison world champion Benjamin Thomas (France).
It proved an enthralling battle with Denmark’s Niklas Larsen finishing ahead of Thomas in the opening scratch race, before Meyer took out the tempo event by a point from Stewart, in the 10km race with one point on offer to the leader on each of the 40 laps.
Stewart showed his considerable nous to win the elimination race, where the last rider on every second lap is eliminated. Meyer went out with four riders left while Thomas was eliminated in a three-way sprint before Stewart accounted for Raman Tsishkou (Belarus) in the final sprint.
The New Zealander took a two-point lead into the all-important final points race from Meyer and Thomas, but the Australian prevailed after lapping the field for the bonus 20 points to win on 134 points. Thomas edged the Kiwi in the final sprint to secure second in a superb battle that is likely to emerge again at next month’s world championships in Poland.
It moved Stewart to eighth overall in the UCI World Cup standings.
Campbell Stewart and Tom Sexton then produced a performance that belied their years to snatch an exciting victory in the Madison on the final day of racing in Hong Kong.
The Vantage Elite New Zealand pair produced a withering final sprint to claim the double points to overtake Australia and claim the gold medal.
Stewart partnered with Aaron Gate to win the Madison in equally outstanding fashion at the World Cup in Cambridge last week, with Sexton coming in to the team to pair up with his Vantage Elite teammate in Hong Kong while Gate won the New Zealand Cycle Classic around the roads of Waipa.
Stewart and Sexton, former silver medallists at the junior world championships, scored points on eight of the 12 sprints in the gruelling 30kms event, in which points are scored every 10 laps in the two-rider event.
Australia pushed to the lead in the competition as the only team to lap the field to gain the 20 bonus points. But the Kiwis rallied with some typically aggressive riding and outstanding teamwork to score points in the last four sprints including the double points final dash which earned victory.
They finished with 33 points, four ahead of Australia, with France third.