It proved a battle of mate on mate among the world champion sprinters with Sam Webster beating best mate Ethan Mitchell on the penultimate night of finals at the UCI Oceania Track Championships at the Avantidrome in Cambridge.  Webster defended his Oceania Championship sprint title in two straight rides over Mitchell after some world class sprinting.

Earlier Mitchell beat off the challenge from Australia’s Matthew Glaetzer, who had broken the All Comers record in qualifying, also in two straight rides in the semifinal, coming from behind on both occasions.  Meanwhile Webster, in his first major competition of the season, was all class to dispose of Australia former junior world champion Jacob Schmid in the other semifinal in two rides.

“They came out firing for a home crowd. The Australians came here in fantastic form but we have put together some world class performances on the track over the last three days so I am pretty happy,” said coach Anthony Peden.  “It’s difficult for me and for the riders when they ride against each other. It’s hard to see one win and one lose, but happy to see them both in the final and dominate Oceania for three years in a row.

“It was huge for Ethan who came back from a big crash at over 70kph in his quarterfinal and also from Sam because Schmid is no slouch. Both the Australians out-qualified us but we were tactically very astute tonight.

“Sam was very classy in the final and took Ethan to school really.”

Earlir the Australians and New Zealanders shared the spoils in the Omnium competition.  Vantage New Zealand endurance squad riders Racquel Sheath, Rushlee Buchanan and Michaela Drummond took the top three places in the women’s elite four-event omnium while the Australian replied in kind with Josh Harrison, Leigh Howard and Benjamin Harvey sharing the podium in the elite men’s omnium.

Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster went mate-against-mate in the Oceania Track Cycling Championships, photo Dianne Manson

The Kiwi women were on form from the start with the experienced Buchanan showing her nous to win the 7.5km Scratch race, while Sheath was one of three riders to put a lap on the field on her way to winning the 7.5km Tempo race.  Queensland’s Kristina Clonan took out the Elimination in the final sprint which meant Sheath had a four point lead on Buchanan going into the final Points race.  Buchanan was the class of the Points Race, winning three straight sprint bonuses. Sheath’s speed gave her the final sprint to cement the win to finish with 158 points overall from Buchanan on 150 and Drummond on 124.

Importantly it cemented a sport for a New Zealand omnium rider in February’s World Championships.  “That is super-exciting for New Zealand and it’s my first Oceania title in omnium so it is super-exciting for me too,” said Sheath.  “I love this format. The bunch races are suited to me. The timed events used to be my downfall in the old format so this format gets me really excited every time I race.”

“The key was racing smart, being on to it and trying to preserve as much energy as I could in those earlier races in the day.”

In the men’s omnium, world champion Jordan Kerby showed extraordinary speed to dominate the Scratch race from compatriot Howard. However Harrison was one of three riders to lap the field to set up a win in the exciting Tempo race.  Harvey and Kerby went out early in the Elimination race, which was won by New Zealand’s junior world omnium champion Campbell Stewart from Howard. That left Howard on 106 with a four point advantage going into the Points race ahead of Stewart, from Ben Harvey (NSW) on 98, Harrison 94 and Kerby 92.  Harrison was aggressive throughout the Points race and managed to hold off Howard and Harvey, who all put a lap on the field, which led to an Australian podium.

Earlier New Zealand’s Jenna Merrick took out the key final sprint to ledge Australian Lauren Robards to win the Under-19 Women’s Omnium.  Southland’s Corbin Strong dug deep to from behind to win the Under-19 3000m individual pursuit final over Nelson’s Finn Fisher-Black.

In sprint action Nelson’s Shaane Fulton won the under-19 women’s sprint in two straight rides over Southland’s Nicole Marshall while South Australia’s Leigh Hoffman won the under-19 men in two rides over Thomas Cornish (NSW).

The competition finishes on Thursday.

Results:

Elite

Men Omnium overall: Josh Harrison (AUS) 145 points, 1; Leigh Howard (AUS) 140, 2; Benjamin Harvey (AUS) 133, 3.

Women Omnium overall: Racquel Sheath (NZL) 158 points, 1; Rushlee Buchanan (NZL0 150, 2; Michaela Drummond (NZL) 124, 3.

Men sprint qualifying: Matthew Glaetzer (Australia) 9.681, 1 (All Comers Record); Jacob Schmid (Australia) 9.736, 2; Eddie Dawkins (NZL) 9.740, 3; Ethan Mitchell (NZL) 9.776, 4; Patrick Constable (Australia) 9.837, 5; Sam Webster (NZL) 9.852, 6.

Semifinal 1: Mitchell bt Glaetzer 2-0. Semifinal 2: Webster bt Schmid 2-0.  Gold Medal:  Webster bt Mitchell 2-0. Bronze Medal: Glaetzer bt Schmid  2-0.

Under-19:

Women sprint qualifying: Shaane Fulton (NZL) 11.747, 1; Nicole Marshall (NZL) 12.060, 2; Rihana Pezaj (Western Australia) 12.148, 3; Britney Greene (NZL) 12.190, 4.

Semifinal 1: Shaane Fulton (NZL) bt Madeleine Gough (Southland) 2-0. Semifinal 2: Nicole Marshall (NZL) bt Rihana Pezaj (Western Australia) 2-0. Gold medal:  Fulton bt Marshall 2-0. Bronze medal: Pezaj bt Gough 2-0.

Men sprint qualifying: Leigh Hoffman (South Australia) 10.459, 1; Thomas Cornish (NSW) 484, 2; Thomas Garbett (WCNI) 10.567, 3; Ewan Syme (Southland) 10.984, 4. Semifinal 1: Hoffman bt Syme 2-0. Semifinal 2: Cornish bt Garbett 2-1. Gold Medal: Hoffman bt Cornish 2-0. Bronze Medal: Thomas Garbett (WCNI) bt Ewan Syme (Southland) 2-0.

Men 3000m Individual Pursuit, Gold medal: Corbin Strong (Southland) 3:19.766, 1; Finn Fisher-Black (NZL) 3:20.185, 2. Bronze medal: Matthew Rice (ACT) 3:26.239, 3; Daniel Gandy (NSW) 3:28.009, 4.

Women Omnium overall: Jenna Merrick (NZL) 130 points, 1; Lauren Robards (ACT) 123, 2; Ally Wollaston (NZL) 116, 3.

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