The New Zealand women’s team pursuit have had to settle for a silver medal by the narrowest of margins in a remarkable final on day two of the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Germany.
The women’s team pursuit, down by nearly a second with 1000m remaining, mounted a huge push over the closing four laps, only to fall short to defending champions Italy by just 7/1000ths of a second.
An 11-strong New Zealand team are contesting the five-day championships that have attracted over 350 riders from 40 nations to the Oderlandhalle Velodrome in Frankfurt-Oder, on the border of Germany and Poland.
The New Zealand women’s combination of Sami Donnelly, Ally Wollaston, McKenzie Milne and Emily Paterson earned the silver medal and set a New Zealand record in the process but could not have come any closer to the top of the podium.
“The silver medal for us as a team was bitter-sweet. On one side, it was disappointing being so close to victory. But on the other, it was still a silver medal at the Junior World Champs and a pb, which is still a great success,” said Ally Wollaston.
She was part of last year’s combination along with Donnelly and Milne who set themselves for the top of the podium this year.
“After a disappointing final at the Junior Worlds in 2018, our three returning riders for this year were hungry for a comeback. The girls knew we were definitely in with the chance for the final.
“Our goal was to execute our race plan to a tee, and that’s what was done. Just a shame to fall so short of the rainbow jersey, but an 11 second pb for our team is definitely nothing to be disappointed with.
“We knew what we were capable of doing and we knew our job. All that was needed was the confidence in each other to execute the team plan.”
Earlier in the day the quartet were second fastest in the first round with an excellent effort of 4:28.784 to ensure a place in the final against Italy, who had won the gold for the last two years.
The Kiwis began confidently in the final, ahead at the 1000m by 0.9s, and by 0.8s at midway. The Italians made a big push to overtake the Kiwis to take a 0.7s lead into the final 1000m. The New Zealanders made a massive finishing burst with an outstanding 1:04 split for the final kilometre as the Italians wilted under the pressure, but held on by the slimmest of margins.
Great Britain prevailed over Russia to claim the bronze medal.
Earlier the New Zealand men’s team pursuit had to settle for fourth place, edged by Russia in the ride for the bronze medal.
The Russians went under the previous world record in the process clocking 3:59.955 to better the Kiwi combination of Lachie Dickson, Conor Shearing, Laurence Pithie and Keegan Hornblow who managed 4:02.711.
The world record was lowered again in the gold medal final with Germany winning in 3:58.793 over France.
Meanwhile Kiaan Watts finished ninth in the 10km scratch race won by Benjamin Hertz of Denmark.
Attention turns to the individual events on day 3 with Donnelly competing in the women’s omnium, Hornblow in the individual pursuit and Dickson in the Points race.
Day 2 NZ Results:
Women team pursuit, first round: Italy 4:28.192, 1; New Zealand (Emily Paterson, McKenzie Milne, Ally Wollaston, Sami Donnelly) 4:27.784, 2; Russia 4:30.570, 3; Great Britain 4:30.802, 4.
Gold medal: Italy 4:26.060, 1; New Zealand 4:26.067, 2. Bronze medal: Great Britain 4:27.853, 3; Russia 4:41.559, 4.
Men team pursuit: Gold medal: Germany 3:58.793, 1 (World Record); France 3:59.928, 2. Bronze Medal: Russia 3:59.955, 3; New Zealand (Keegan Hornblow, Laurence Pithie, Conor Shearing, Lachlan Dickson) 4:02.711, 4.
Men Scratch Race 10km: Benjamin Hertz (DEN) 1, Anderson Arboleda Ruiz (COL) 2, Jacob Decar Zuniga (CHI) 3. Also: Kiaan Watts (NZL) 9.