The New Zealand men’s and women’s team pursuit combinations both topped qualifying on the first day of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Santiago, Chile.

The youthful men’s team pursuit, that won the gold medal in Canada last week in a competition PB 3:59.00, went a second faster to best qualifying at the new Penalolen Velodrome in Santiago.  The women’s combination, who took out the silver medal last week and a season best 4:22.310, also went considerably faster to lead the qualifying.

The men’s quartet of Nic Kergozou, Jared Gray, Campbell Stewart and Tom Sexton clocked 3:58.071 to be more than four seconds faster than second ranked USA.  They opened with a 1:04 first kilometre and followed with three successive 58-second kilometres for a new best time in competition, which is further encouraging development from such a young group although still some distance from the world best standard of Great Britain and Australia.

The women’s team of Rushlee Buchanan, Kirstie James, Bryony Botha and Racquel Sheath were also impressive with a controlled ride in 4:21.590 to be a second faster than Italy at the top of the rankings.

Kirstie James leads the women’s team pursuit quartet, photo Guy Swarbrick

They recorded a 1:10 opening kilometre with successive kilo times of 58 seconds, 58 seconds and 59 seconds to be within four seconds of their national record set in Rio last year.

The women will meet the Ukraine in the first round tomorrow with the winner progressing to the gold medal ride in the evening, while the men will wait until the final day to take on Germany, again with the winner moving to the final.

Today Emma Cumming and Natasha Hansen compete in individual sprint qualifying; Michaela Drummond rides the four-event omnium; Tom Sexton and Campbell Stewart pair up in the two-rider madison while the women ride in the team pursuit.

Day 1 results:

Men 4000m Team Pursuit, qualifying: New Zealand (Nick Kergozou, Jared Gray, Campbell Stewart, Tom Sexton) 3:58.071, 1; USA 4:02.798, 2; Japan 4:03.843, 3; Germany 4:04.570, 4.

Women 4000m team pursuit, qualifying: New Zealand (Rushlee Buchannan, Kirstie James, Bryony Botha, Racquel Sheath) 4:21.590, 1; Italy 4:22.572, 2; Japan 4:28.145, 3; Ukraine 4:32.824, 4.


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