Women team pursuit spark strong start for New Zealand track cyclists

Road, Track & Cyclocross
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The New Zealand women’s endurance team continued their winning ways on the opening day of the UCI Track Nations Cup in Hong Kong.

It is the second of three UCI Nations Cup competitions to gain UCI ranking points to qualify for both the world championships and, more importantly, for the Paris Olympic Games.

The women’s quartet of Bryony Botha, Sami Donnelly, Nicole Shields and Emily Shearman overlapped Ireland in the final to claim the elite 4000m team pursuit, made more impressive with first round omnium winner, Ally Wollaston spelled from this competition.

They topped qualifying in 4:17.898, nearly three seconds faster than the closest opposition, and lowered this to 4:13.685 to dominate Japan in the first round.

In the final, the kiwi combination had a one second advantage at 1000m, pushing to 2.5secs at midway, 5 secs at 3000m before catching the Irish combination.

The New Zealand men’s team pursuit quartet of George Jackson, Keegan Hornblow, Tom Sexton, Campbell Stewart claimed the bronze medal with an impressive win over Australia.

The men’s qualified second fastest behind Denmark in 3:52.330, but were beaten by a white-hot Japan in their first round, after the two teams were locked until the final four laps.

The kiwi quartet rallied with an impressive performance in the bronze medal ride, edging ahead at the 2000m mark and then continuing to extend the gap to win in 3:51.664 with the Australians over a second behind.

The New Zealand team was without Aaron Gate, who arrived from road race duties at the Tour of Taiwan, where he finished fourth on general classification. He flew in to compete in the elimination race.

New Zealand leads the current Olympic rankings for the women’s and men’s team pursuit.

The women’s team sprint trio of Rebecca Petch, Shaane Fulton, Olivia King qualified fifth in 47.810s. They were edged by the powerful Netherlands combination in the first round, although they produced a best time of 47.683s.

Petch started brilliantly with her 18.780s standing start opening lap was second fastest of all teams, in an encouraging performance from the trio who are third on the Nations Cup rankings, with Andrews still to return.

In the elimination races, Donnelly was 14th and Gate was 17th in the men.

Day two includes Fulton and King in the individual sprint, Sam Dakin in the keirin, Gate in the omnium with Botha and Shearman in the madison.

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