Two more wins pushes New Zealand track riders to top in Nations Cup

Road, Track & Cyclocross
AWOm7 v2.v1


Victories for Ally Wollaston in the omnium along with Aaron Gate and Campbell Stewart in the madison sealed an outstanding opening UCI Nations Cup track cycling campaign for New Zealand in Adelaide.

New Zealand has made a splendid start to their campaign with four gold medals and a bronze, sealed with emphatic performances from Wollaston and the Gate-Stewart combination. It pushed New Zealand to the Top Nation Trophy for the event.

The three Nations Cup events in Adelaide, Hong Kong, and Milton, form the key ranking points to confirm qualification for the Paris Olympic Games.

Wollaston, who won the elimination race and was part of the team pursuit victory on day one, had too much speed and composure for her opposition in the four-discipline omnium.

She out-sprint the pack to claim the opening scratch race, and stormed through the field for second in the tempo to share the overall lead with Great Britain’s Katie Archibald, a five-time world and double Olympic champion.

Wollaston had clear tactics in the elimination, where the last rider every two laps is eliminated. Once it was reduced to Archbald and the world and Olympic champion Jennifer Valente (USA) among the final four riders, the kiwi star was simply too fast and too strong.

She took a four point lead into the final Points race, covering Archibald and maintaining a watching brief on other contenders, until the final two sprints in the 80 lap race, where she dominating to claim the title ahead of Archibald and Valente.

“I am proud to execute the way I wanted. I wanted to be consistent across the day and really make my mark on the race and I think I did that,” said Wollaston.

“May be a couple of years ago when I started the omnium, I would get overwhelmed with the girls I was racing. Today was the first time I have raced my race in the omnium against some of the best in the world. It is nice to see the progress over the years in this event.

“Consistency across the omnium was definitely the key for me today.”

Wollaston was also thrilled with the development in the team pursuit.

“In the team pursuit we executed three great rounds. We went in with a clear intention in each race and we trialled different people in different role throughout the team to answer a few questions. We did amazing and I am proud of the progress we have made with these girls.”

While the big goal has more clarity, Wollaston is not getting ahead of herself.

“We are athletes. We always dream. An Olympic gold is the dream for any athlete. I’d be crazy to say that it wasn’t mine as well.

“For now, I must keep my head screwed on. At the end of the day it was just another bike race and there is plenty more where they came from. So staying level-headed and grounded and looking forward to the next race.”

Gate started where he left off from his Omnium display, joining with Stewart to drive the field in the 200-lap, 50km, two-rider madison, where one rider must be in play each lap, swapping with a hand-sling.

They joined Germany for the early break, with five teams gaining 20 points for lapping the field, and from that point the kiwi pair were locked in a tough battle with Germany and Japan. They proved too strong to relentlessly pick-up points, cover any breaks and move clear of the field.

The challengers petered out as Gate and Stewart picked up points in 14 of the 20 sprints as well as a 20 point bonus for lapping the field to dominate, winning with 73 points from Germany on 55 and Great Britain 52.

“We took the attack to them and went on the front-foot to start strong, then changed to work from the back but we reverted to put the pace back in the closing laps. It was really cool, ”said Stewart.

“We talked about our plan and we showed plenty of grit. Of course it gives us some confidence looking towards Paris, although not everyone was here.”

He also complimented his veteran partner Gate.

“Gatey is weird. You put him on the bike each year and he just gets faster. We think the strength is in that mullet, may be if we win in Paris, he can cut it off,” he joked.

It is a busy time for Stewart who juggles his Olympic aspirations on the track with life as a WorldTour road cyclists for the Jayco AlUla team, flying to Oman on Tuesday for a road race and then back to Europe.

“It is a jam-packed year for me. I love both road and track and love doing both. I have to manage both. One compliments the other and it works well.”

Earlier Sam Dakin qualified 24th fastest in the individual sprint, clocking a slick 9.942s in a super-fast qualifying effort where 25 of the 28 qualifiers went under the 10-second barrier.

However Dakin drew impressive Japanese rider Yuta Obara who won by just 0.02s in the tight finish to eliminate the kiwi from the competition.

The women’s keirin brought an enforced change for New Zealand with Rebecca Petch and Shaane Fulton racing, as world champion Ellesse Andrews recovers from concussion received from her crash in the sprint semifinal in day two.  

Both Petch and Fulton missed out with only the winner going through in each heat, and repechage heats.

The team return to Cambridge with some competing in the Road National Championships in Timaru this weekend, ahead of the Oceania Track Championships in Cambridge on 14-18 February.

Back to news