New Zealand’s three Olympic track cycling squads produced encouraging performances in solo time trials on the eve of the Vantage Elite and Under-19 Track Cycling National Championships at Invercargill.
The Vantage Elite track squads completed two time trials, to mimic their racing in Tokyo, with an initial qualifying ride in the afternoon and a second run in the evening at the SIT Zerofees Velodrome.
The Vantage Men’s Team Pursuit quartet clocked 3:46.6 over the 4000m which was almost one second faster than their time set in winning the silver medal at last year’s world championships in Berlin and under their New Zealand record time.
The time is just two seconds outside Denmark’s world record set in winning the world championship final, although is unofficial and cannot be recognised as a New Zealand record.
The quartet of Regan Gough, Campbell Stewart, Corbin Strong and Aaron Gate went 3:50.5 in the afternoon ride, and stepped it up in the evening with an impressive effort.
A second combination of Hugo Jones, Nick Kergozou, Tom Sexton and Josh Scott impressed with a 3:52.2 time riding against the other combination.
The Vantage Women’s Team Pursuit clocked 4:15.6 in the afternoon before a big effort of 4:11.8 in the evening, which was only 1.5 seconds off Great Britain’s world record and a second outside the national record they set at the World Cup in Cambridge in late 2019.
The quartet was led off by new starter Jaime Nielsen with Holly Edmondston at wheel two, Kirstie James at three and Bryony Botha at four.
Earlier the Vantage Men’s Team Sprint combination featured newcomer Sam Dakin starting, Ethan Mitchell in second wheel and Sam Webster as anchor as they clocked 43.3 seconds.
It was Dakin’s first time starting and with more experience, the group is confident of a competitive international time at Tokyo.
“Overall, the performances were encouraging across the board,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“The men’s and women’s endurance squads have come straight off a major block of racing on the road, and some have yet recover fully but we do know the racing will set them up well for the next key training block.
“The boys were solid in the morning and impressed with their strength in the evening ride, although it was not a smooth, coordinated effort which is not surprising given they have come off this road racing block.
The second men’s team were strong and good to see the developing depth.
“We experimented with Jaime Nielsen starting and she did a good job to set things up, and of course we have come here without Rushlee Buchanan who is still recovering from her crash late last year.
“The men’s sprint has also experimented and it was a big effort for Sam Dakin to move to starter but considering his lack of experience, there were good signs they are moving in the right direction.”
The riders now remove their Vantage national black racing suits for provincial colours ready for the start of the national championships on Wednesday which feature time trials for Under-19 and Para-Cyclists in the morning and elites in the evening, with the highlight likely to be the scratch races for elite women over 10km and men over 15km to finish the evening programme on the first of four days of racing.
CAPTION: Jaime Nielsen, leading the Vantage women’s team pursuit at the 2020 UCI World Championships, led off in their time trial at Invercargill. (Guy Swarbrick Photo)
Details: www.elitetracknationals.nz with evening sessions live streamed on Sky Sport Next You Tube.