Cycling New Zealand has given their team a nine out of 10 for performances on their home track in the Tissot UCI Track World Cup that finished in Cambridge yesterday with another gold for New Zealand; this time for Madison duo Aaron Gate & Campbell Stewart.
The team won eight medals including five golds at the Avantidrome – the most victories by any team over the week.
The Vantage New Zealand elite team were boosted on the final day by two omnium world champions who provided the highlight on the final day when Campbell Stewart and Aaron Gate combined to win the 50km Madison race.
“The performances on the track have been good, but I’ve been very impressed with what’s happening off the track as well too,” said Cycling New Zealand High Performance Director, Martin Barras.
“As a programme we’re coming together. Process is what’s going to get us to where we want to be and we’re very much on track.”
Barras is particularly pleased with the results and depth in the endurance programmes.
“We have eight guys in competition for the team pursuit. That’s a luxury very few teams have. And it is a similar position for the women who of course recorded the third fastest time in history here and yet there will be a lot of competition for the team for Tokyo.”
He is supportive of the decision to rest Eddie Dawkins from the team for the Brisbane World Cup after carrying a major load under the new regime with the team sprint running with much bigger gearing.
“As a team we’re going okay. We’ve had a bit of a hiccup…but we wouldn’t be smart if we didn’t reset and just make sure we’re putting them in the very best position to get to Tokyo.
“These guys are proven performers, Rene’s a proven coach. In the past we wouldn’t have been able to rest him (Eddie), we would have had to carry on, but such is our depth now that Sam Dakin is definitely able to come in and do a job.
“We have three girls in contention for the women’s sprint. That’s the way we like it, so we have competition across the board which is very healthy.”
The Madison was the highlight last night with the much-anticipated battle between the kiwi pair and the celebrated Australians Kelland O’Brien and Cameron Meyer. After the kiwis attacked early to put a lap on the field, the Australians responded to draw level as the pair lapped the field again, and then put the pressure on New Zealand.
They weathered that storm before charging clear to lap the field for a fourth and final time to put the result well beyond threat.
The kiwis’ four laps on the field, as well as six sprint wins and points in 14 of the other 20 sprints meant they finished with 129 points, with Australia an enormous 42 points back, with Italy (Michele Scartezzini and Francesco Lamon) third on 57 points.
“We really wanted to push the boat out and see what we could do over the 50km race. The World Cup here back in January was 30km but the Olympic distance is 50km so we wanted to get stuck in,” said Gate.
“After we got ahead we were able to follow and cover them and make sure we were picking up enough points to open the gap and then we were able to pick up another lap at the end which gave us the buffer,” said Stewart.
“The feeling in the crowd helped push us to get around. We managed to push a few more laps – last time we got two laps and this time we got four. It was unreal out there and hopefully the world cup will come back again and we can get six laps up.”
In other racing for New Zealand on the final day, Ellesse Andrews, riding for the Subway New Zealand trade team, won the consolation final for seventh overall in the keirin, with teammate Olivia Podmore ninth.
Fellow Kiwi sprinters Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell fell short of the medal rounds in the men’s sprint.
Webster went out in the quarterfinals in two straight rides to Australian Nathan Hart, after setting the sixth best time in qualifying. Mitchell qualified 11th before being ousted by Webster in the second round.
Rushlee Buchanan had to settle for 15th place in the women’s omnium, her chances spoiled in the opening scratch race when a rider came down in front of her and the resulting crash left her with just the final placing of two points. She placed eighth in the tempo, 14th in the elimination and ninth in the points race.
George Jackson, riding for the Southern Spars trade team, sprinted home for sixth place in the 15km scratch race, with Vantage New Zealand’s Nick Kergozou 19th.
Other highlights included a second successive win for Korea’s Hyejin Lee in the women’s keirin ahead of Canada’s Lauriane Genest (Canada) and Australian Stephanie Morton, returning to competition after time out with injury.
Poland’s impressive Mateusz Rudyk, the top qualifier in a New Zealand Allcomers record of 9.527s, went on to claim the victory in two straight rides over Japan’s Tomohiro Fukaya with compatriot Yudai Nitta third in the men’s sprint.
There was also a repeat winner in the women’s omnium with Japan’s Yumi Kajihara triumphant after winning the scratch race, second in the tempo and elimination, and fifth in the points race to finish on 129 points. She was 11 points ahead of USA’s Jennifer Valente and experienced Canadian Allison Beveridge third on 111 points, her third omnium podium in Cambridge.
Ukraine’s Roman Gladysh took out the final event when he rode solo to win the men’s 15km scratch race ahead with Netherlands rider Roy Effting taking the bunch sprint over Greece’s Christos Volikakis.
The penultimate round of the Tissot UCI Track World Cup is in Brisbane starting on Friday.