New Zealand cycling star Ellesse Andrews completed a memorable international season, taking the overall female sprint honours in the UCI Track Champions League in London.
The second night of racing at the Lee Valley Velodrome, venue of the 2012 London Olympic track cycling, completed the five-round competition, involving a select invitation field in a series in Mallorca, Berlin, Paris and London.
The sprint competition included the individual sprint with a unique three-up qualifying and semifinal with a traditional two-rider head-to-head final, along with a keirin where the top two riders progressed from each heat to a shorter five-lap final.
Andrews came into the final night in London with a slender seven-point lead in the series over German Alessa-Catriona Propster. The New Zealander was in commanding form tonight, winning her heat, semifinal and the final in the individual sprint.
With the German not progressing out of the sprint heats, the kiwi keirin world champion stretched her overall advantage to 16 points.
Andrews made that lead unassailable with her win in her keirin heat, but wanted to go out in style, going on to produce an impressive victory in the keirin final. She pushed to the front on the last lap to hold off Propster and Colombian world championship silver medallist, Martha Bayona.
“Today was a massive day. I tried to focus on each individual race and not the overall although that was hard. I wanted to do my best race in each event today,” said Andrews.
“I am happy I came. It is not always easy to get racing experience in New Zealand. We are a long way away from the rest of the world, so this was a perfect opportunity to come over and keep learning, and keep testing myself and pushing myself.”
Fellow Cycling New Zealand sprinters Sam Dakin and Callum Saunders also enjoyed excellent debut seasons in the series, finishing fifth and eighth respectively overall in the five-stop series.
Dakin finished fourth and Saunders sixth in the sprint competition in London, both making it through the heats in the sprint and but just pipped out of final qualifying in photo finishes in their keirin heats.
Fellow kiwi Emma Cumming finished 14th overall in the women’s endurance competition.
The riders return to New Zealand to continue their preparations towards an all-important Oceania Track Championships in Cambridge and Nations Cup in the new year, towards qualification for the Paris Olympics.