Wollaston triumph wraps up strong New Zealand track cycling performance

Road, Track & Cyclocross
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Waikato rider Ally Wollaston wrapped up a successful opening New Zealand campaign with a brilliant victory on the final day of the UCI Nations Cup track competition in Jakarta.

The Cycling New Zealand team bagged six medals, including three gold, and a swag of strong points in the first of three mandatory UCI Nations Cup competitions that earn ranking points to qualify for the world championships and ultimately, the Paris Olympics.

Wollaston, in her first major international track campaign, won her third gold medal with a stunning victory in the four-event omnium, a key Olympic competition, with a thoroughly dominant display.

The 22 year old had too much speed and nous to win the opening scratch race, placed second in the tempo race and dominated the elimination race to take a 20 point lead into the final points race.

Wollaston covered all the key moves, and was in the group that put a lap on the field for 20 bonus points. When she had the chance she used her speed to effect, winning three of the 10 sprints, including the double points final sprint to claim the title.

Wollaton finished on 158 points, 19 clear of Clara Coppini (FRA) in second and 34 ahead of Neah Evans (GBR) in third.

Earlier the experienced men’s pairing of Aaron Gate and Campbell Stewart were third in the two-rider madison behind Germany and the Netherlands.

They raced aggressively early, and when the Germans and Dutch escaped to lap the field, the kiwis used their experience to cover the field to pick up the bronze, with ranking points towards the world championships and ultimately the big dance in Paris next year uppermost.

“The key to the performance was the hard work by the whole squad before we came here,” said the experienced Aaron Gate.

“We’ve had George Jackson and Dan Bridgwater really step up to have great team pursuit rides and George also rode well in the elimination which was great to see.”

Olympic medallist Ellesse Andrews impressed in the keirin, winning her opening heat and first round to qualify for the final. In a stacked field, the kiwi attacked off the front early and was only run down in the final turn to settle for fourth in an encouraging display given a limited build-up.

The only downside was the injury to Sam Dakin in a crash near the end of the men’s keirin final, preventing him from racing in the sprint competition today, and likely to sideline him for some time.

Gate said the overall squad success in this all-important first Nations Cup has been impressive and encouraging.

“Every squad member was either on the podium or very close to it which is really encouraging across the entire track cycling team.

“Ally topped off today by making it a clean sweep of three from three gold medals which was incredible and pretty cool to see.

“First competition of the season really sets us up well going forward. Still a lot of hard work to be done but I know our men’s team pursuit squad and Campbell and myself in the madison have learned a lot from the racing here that we can apply to going faster and riding better in the next Nations Cup and on to the world champs and hopefully the Olympics.

“We came here to get points and we did that. Now the endurance guys can get back on the road and build the engines for the world championships in Glasgow later in the year.”

The New Zealand team return home to prepare for the second for the second round of the Nations Cup in April.

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