The Vantage New Zealand elite team earned two gold medals at either end of the spectrum on the opening night of the Oceania Track Cycling Championships in Adelaide.
The elite men’s team sprint trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins returned across the Tasman to win the final, in the first competition ride since their Commonwealth Games triumph on the Gold Clast earlier in the year.
Earlier the men’s elite team pursuit combination, made up of largely development riders put together a week ago, upset the Australians in a tight final battle after they were second fastest by some distance in qualifying.
Nearly 40 New Zealand riders are in Adelaide for the four-day championships, which begins the international season and offers qualifying points for the world championships and ultimately to the Tokyo Olympics.
The Vantage Elite New Zealand team won two gold medals, six silver and three bronze in the cool conditions on the opening night.
Focus was on the star men’s sprint trio, who improved on their afternoon qualifying effort of 43.839s by 0.2s in the final to hold off a strong Australian combination of Nathan Hart, Jacob Schmid, Patrick Constable by a narrow margin in the final. It was their sixth Oceania title in a row and ninth in all.
“It was good to come out and improve on our qualifying ride,” said Webster. “It is our first team sprint in competition since the Commonwealth Games, so it was going to be a shock to the system. So, to lift again in sub-optimal conditions on a track that can be quite hard to master technically, I was pleased with how we rode this technically tonight,” said Webster.
“After a big block of training we are itching to get back into the World Cup scene. After an effort like that it shows the work we have done in the winter has given us the progression to step up,” said Mitchell.
“It feels as good as the first one,” Dawkins said of New Zealand’s sixth Oceania team sprint title in a row.
“They are always a hard-fought battle against Australia they always put everything out there. It is early in the season so hard to tell how each team is going but we found out this evening we are very very close which is awesome. We always have that great rivalry and it sets up a good platform for Oceania athletes progressing through to World Cups and World Championships.”
Earlier the quartet of Aaron Wyllie, Tom Sexton, Sam Dobbs and Harry Waine upset the Australia combination in the final, sticking to their race plan to put the Australians under pressure.
They prevailed by just half a second in 4:07.169 after the two teams could not be separated for the entire 4000m test at the Adelaide Super-Drome.
“It was great to come away with the win and great to see the boys come together in only a week together. Sam (Dobbs) has only been back on his bike four weeks and good to have him with us and for him to get through the ride,” said Waine.
Dobbs, who has been focussing on the road and just returned from a tough season in Europe, was surprised with his first effort on the boards.
“I am so stoked to do this with the boys. This was my first ever team pursuit this morning. It’s great when the plan works out, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Dobbs.
Sexton, part of the Commonwealth Games team, said the ride was executed perfectly.
“It was well executed ride by the boys. We had the plan and stuck to it. You do the mahi and you get the treats,” said Sexton.
In other rides the pairing of Emma Cumming and Olivia Podmore were second to Commonwealth Games champions Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton in the final of the elite women’s team sprint in 33.359s while the women’s team pursuit was also second to Australia in the team pursuit final.
The hosts won all four finals in the team pursuit and team sprint in the junior competition with the closest battle coming in the junior boys’ team pursuit final with the combination of Laurence Pithie, Reuben Webster, Griffyn Spencer and Conor Shearing pipped by half a second in an exciting battle.
The day two competition will see the Vantage New Zealand team cyclists along with development riders from the Subway Performance Hubs competing in men’s omnium, time trials and individual pursuit competition.
Day 1 results:
Women team sprint, qualifying: Australia Gold 32.875, 1; NZL (Emma Cumming, Olivia Podmore) 33.544, 2; Australia White 34.744, 3. Final: Australia Gold 32.810, 1; New Zealand 33.359, 2; Australia White 34.893, 3.
Women team pursuit qualifying: Australia Green 4:23.534, 1; NZL (Ellesse Andrews, Nicole Shields, Jessie Hodges, Emily Shearman) 4:29.203, 2; Australia Gold 4:34.568, 3. Final: Australia Green 4:22.052, 1; New Zealand 4:27.775, 2; Australia Gold 4:33.760, 3.
Men team pursuit qualifying: Australia Green 4:03.371, 1; Australia Gold 4:09.268, 2; NZL (Aaron Wylie, Tom Sexton, Sam Dobbs, Harry Waine) 4:09.750, 3. Final: New Zealand 4:07.169, 1; Australia Gold 4:07.792, 2; Australia White 3.
Men team sprint qualifying: NZL (Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins) 43.839, 1; Australia Green 44.158, 2; Australia Gold 44.575, 3. Final: New Zealand (Mitchell, Webster, Dawkins) 43.627, 1; Australia Green (Nathan Hart, Jacob Schmid, Patrick Constable) 43.804, 2; Waikato BOP (Sam Dakin, Callum Saunders, Jackson Ogle) 45.047, 3.
Women Points Race (20km): Ashlee Akudinoff (AUS) 22 points, 1; Georgia Baker (AUS) 21, 2; Jessie Hodges (NZL) 12, 3.
Men Points Race (30km): Kelland O’Brien (AUS) 46 points, 1; Alexander Porter 3-0, 2; Aaron Wylie (NZL) 28, 3.
Women Team Sprint qualifying: Australia Green 36.741, 1; NZL (Olivia King, Tyla Green) 37.162, 2. Final: Australia Green 35.954, 1; NZL, 37.142, 2.
Men Team Sprint, Qualifying: Australia 46.757, 1; NZL (Sam Upton, Cameron Manley, Patrick Clancy) 48.409, 2; Australia Gold 49.603, 3. Final: Australia Green 46.454, 1; NZL 48.897, 2; Australia Red 48.947, 3.
Women team pursuit, qualifying: Australia 4:48.44, 1; NZL (Eva Parkinson, Helena Rikiti, Mya Anderson, Emily Paterson) 4:51.523, 2; Australia Green 4:52.734, 3. Final: Australia Red 4:43.323, 1; New Zealand 4:49.789, 2. Australia White 4:44.648, 3.
Men team pursuit, qualifying: Australia 4:15.912, 1; NZL (Laurence Pithie, Reuben Webster, Griffyn Spencer, Conor Shearing) 4:17.186, 2; Australia Green 4:21.060, 3. Final: Australia One 4:12.610, 1; New Zealand 4:13.110, 2; Australia Two 4:17.981, 3.