There will be a blaze of world champions’ rainbow jerseys to adorn competition on an all-important TISSOT UCI Track Cycling World Cup that starts at the Avantidrome in Cambridge tomorrow.

There are 20 current world champions among the 500 riders and staff and 54 teams competing in the fourth of six world cup competitions that will provide the final qualifying process towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The competition begins on Friday with the two key team events – the team sprint and team pursuit for males and females.

The current world champions in team pursuit – both male and female – are Australia who are lining up with their top combinations for the first time since their rainbow jersey success.

The men comprise Alex Porter, Leigh Howard, Sam Welsford and Kelland O’Brien, with strong opposition expected from Italy, runners-up at the world championships, Switzerland, Russian Federation and New Zealand.

Vantage New Zealand coach Craig Palmer is continuing to mix up his New Zealand combinations in the three World Cups in Hong Kong, Cambridge and next week in Brisbane.

Nick Kergozou and Dylan Kennett are retained from last week to be joined by Jordan Kerby and Aaron Gate, making his return to the ranks after his pro road contract in Europe.

New Zealand’s development team of Kiaan Watts, George Jackson, Hugo Jones and Josh Scott have been named by coach Hayden Roulston to ride in qualifying under the Southern Spars trade team banner.

Australia has named a powerful team in the women’s team pursuit with Georgia Baker, Ashlee Ankudinoff, Annette Edmondson and Alexandra Manly. As well as the team pursuit victory at the worlds, Ankudinoff is the individual pursuit world champion and Manly the points race rainbow jersey wearer.

New Zealand’s experienced combination of Bryony Botha, Holly Edmondston, Rushlee Buchanan and Kirstie James will lead the Kiwi hopes, while the Hong Kong winning combination of the youthful Ally Wollaston, Jessie Hodges, Emily Shearman and Nicole Shields line-up in the Subway New Zealand trade team colours.

There is expected strong competition from Canada and USA in particular.

There are some powerful teams lining up for the team sprint including China and Poland who made the top four in Hong Kong, along with proven performers from Ukraine and Russian Federation, and Australia.

New Zealand will team up Rio Olympians Natashia Hansen and Olivia Podmore with the team seeking an improved performance this week.

It is a similar situation in the men with the Rio medallists Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins looking to better their times from Hong Kong and challenge the likes of Poland, Russian Federation and China for the top spot on the podium.

The development combination of Bradly Knipe, Sam Dakin and Jordan Castle get invaluable experience racing in the Southern Spars trade team colours.

The top eight teams in both events progress to the first round, with finals in the evening session.

Day two on Saturday features the women’s sprint, scratch race and Madison along with the men’s keirin and omnium, and Sunday comprises the women’s keirin and omnium with the men’s sprint, scratch race and Madison.

Ticket prices for the event range from $30 for adults and $15 for children and all-sessions for three days from $189 for adults and $108 for children, available through ticketek.co.nz.  

Photo: Guy Swarbrick

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