The Vantage New Zealand team made a strong start to their UCI Track World Cup campaign in team pursuit qualifying in Hong Kong.

The young women’s combination proved fastest just ahead of favourites Italy while the men were second fastest in the evening qualifying session.

The women’s quartet of Michaela Drummond, Jessie Hodges, Emily Shearman and Nicole Shields, with an average age of 21 years, clocked 4:26.497 for the 4000m with top seeds Italy only 0.2s slower. 

That leaves New Zealand to meet Korea in the first round tonight (NZ time) with the winner to progress to the gold medal ride overnight. Italy will ride against Belgium to find the other team for the gold medal final.

There was only 0.2s separating the top two teams in qualifying for the men’s team pursuit, with New Zealand this time pipped for top spot by Germany.

The Vantage combination of Campbell Stewart, Dylan Kennett, Nick Kergozou and Corbin Strong clocked a slick 3:54.586 after a strong performance which was fastest until a flying finish from Germany edged out the Kiwi time.

New Zealand will take on the Russian Federation, who qualified third in 3:56.016, with the winner progressing to the gold medal final.

The action continues until Sunday before the focus turns to round four of the Tissot UCI Track World Cup at the Avantidrome in Cambridge on 6 to 8 December.

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