The Vantage New Zealand men’s team sprint squad have ridden their fastest ever time to put an exclamation mark on the opening night of the Oceania track cycling championships at Invercargill’s SIT Zero Fees Velodrome.
The trio of Sam Webster, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins have won three world championships and entertained crowds around the globe, but their Oceania championship record winning time of 42.508sec in tonight’s final was the best time ever laid down by a New Zealand sprint team.
Making a rare appearance on his home track, Southlander Dawkins was elated with the result.
“To ride the fastest time we’ve ever done, it’s pretty unreal. Everything clicked, and clicked twice. We rode really close to our PB in the first round and to be able to back it up bodes well for the future,” Dawkins said.
“It’s super surreal, I’ve got no idea how it happened, but it’s so great – especially for me, for it to happen here. We’ve had a big shift in coaching staff, we’ve got a new coach in Rene (Wolff) and it’s pushed our team in a new direction, focusing on the strength element has just made our starts so much stronger as a unit.”
Dawkins predicted that Wolff would be quietly, if understatedly, pleased with the result – and he was right.
“I’m pretty happy, especially with where we are standing at the moment,” Wolff said.
“We did a lot of work through winter and the European and American summer campaign. We’ve trained a lot, we are pretty solid physically and I’m pretty happy with where we are at.”
Australia’s world champions Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton broke their own championship record on the way to taking out the elite women’s team sprint with a 32.591sec effort. They beat off the challenge from the young New Zealand pairing of Olivia Podmore and Ellesse Andrews, who clocked an improved 33.540 effort, their best as a new combination.
Australian Maeve Plouffe’s daring move paid off when she lapped the field to win the women’s elite 10km scratch race, with New Zealand’s Jordan Kerby taking out the men’s elite 15km scratch race.
Australia, with Conor Leahy, Joshua Duffy, Godfrey Slattery and Lucas Plapp, produced a dominant display to take out the elite men’s team pursuit, capturing a young New Zealand team in the final.
“It was awesome, we had a pretty hefty goal in the way we were going to do our turns and we stuck to it 100 percent, we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome,” Leahy said.
New Zealand’s junior and elite women claimed team pursuit titles, with Australia winning the junior men’s final after a dramatic crash by New Zealand’s Zakk Patterson.
The Australian combination of Alessia McCaig and Kalinda Robinson broke the first record of the Oceania championships on the way to claiming the under 19 women’s team sprint title.
The two first-year under 19 riders set a new championship mark of 35.249sec, nearly half a second faster than the previous record set in 2016.
“We were just here for some experience, so to come away with any medal would just be amazing, let alone to win the championship, it’s pretty cool,” Robinson said.
New Zealand’s Hamish Coltman, Sebastian Lipp and Kaio Lart took out the under 19 men’s team sprint title.
The Oceania championships, which has attracted 180 riders from Australia and New Zealand, continue tomorrow with a schedule including the elite men’s and women’s omnium, and men’s sprint.
Results, day 1 finals:
Junior, Women 4000m team pursuit final: New Zealand (Charlotte Spurway, Natalie Green, Prudence Fowler, Jenna Borthwick) 4:38.77, 1; Australia 4:41.190, 2; New Zealand (Mya Anderson, Jessica Spencer, Maddi Douglas, Rhylee Akeroyd) 4:46.153, 3.
Men team pursuit final: Australia 3, 1; New Zealand 1 (Jack Carswell, Reuben Webster, Navarh Brotherston, Zakk Patterson), 2; New Zealand 2 (Joshua Van Heyningen, Ryan MacLeod, Max Williams, Mitchel Fitzsimons) 4:12.750, 3.
Elite, Women team pursuit final: New Zealand (Kirstie James, Nicole Shields, Emily Shearman, Jessie Hodges) 4:19.040, 1; Australia 1 4:22.057, 2; Australia 2, 3.
Women team sprint final: Australia 1 32.591, 1; New Zealand (Ellesse Andrews, Olivia Podmore) 33.540, 2; Australia 2, 34.437; 3.
Men team pursuit final: Australia 3:45.857, 1; New Zealand 1 (Hugo Jones, Josh Scott, Kiaan Watts, Jared Treymane) caught, 2; New Zealand 2 (Bailey O’Donnell, George Jackson, Conor Shearing, Harry Waine) 4:03.219, 3.
Men team sprint final: New Zealand 1 (Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins) 42.508, 1; Australia 1 43.360, 2; New Zealand 2 (Jordan Castle, Sam Dakin, Bradley Knipe) 44.810, 3.
Women scratch race final (10km): Maeve Plouffe (AUS) 1; Rushlee Buchanan (NZL) 2; Rylee McMullen (SLD) 3.
Men scratch race final (15km): Jordan Kerby (NZL) 1; Kelland O’Brien (AUS) 2; Joshua Harrison (SAS) 3.