Tokyo Olympic riders show form on opening day

Road & Track
Buchanan Hodges 900 v2

Tokyo Olympic riders show form on opening day of Cambridge 3 Day Champs

The Vantage Elite squad, headed by their Tokyo Olympic squad, produced some eye-catching displays on the opening day of the Cambridge 3 Day at the Avantidrome.

In-form Aaron Gate, fresh from winning the Tour of Southland and Vantage Criterium Nationals, was in outstanding form. He joined with fellow world championship silver medallist Campbell Stewart to win the Vantage Madison Championship title in emphatic fashion.

In the lead-up to the event, Gate rode a new national record with a solo time trial in the 4000m individual pursuit.

Olympic-bound Rushlee Buchanan and Jessie Hodges prevailed in the Vantage Women’s Madison Championship, while triple team sprint world champions Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell topped qualifying in the men’s sprint, with fellow Tokyo teammate Ellesse Andrews topping the charts in the women’s sprint qualifying.

Commonwealth Games champion Webster rode within 7/1000th of his New Zealand sprint record in qualifying with all of the Tokyo Olympic sprinters producing outstanding times. Webster topped qualifying in 9.622s for the flying 200m, which was a blink off his national record set at the world championships in Berlin before lockdown.

Mitchell was second fastest on 9.691s, only 0.04s from his best set at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the super-slick Brisbane track, with fellow Tokyo-bound sprinter Sam Dakin third fastest with a significant personal best in 9.732s.

Andrews, the sole female sprinter selected for Tokyo, topped qualifying in the elite females in 10.760, a personal best and only over 0.15s outside the national record.

Fellow Vantage elite teammates Shaane Fulton (Tasman) and Emma Cumming (Southland), making a welcome return to racing after being out with injury for a significant time, were second and third fastest in 10.876s and 11.513s respectively.

The strength of Buchanan proved the key as she and Jessie Hodges outlasted fellow Vantage Elite teammates Bryony Botha and Ally Wollaston in the 25km Madison.

The two-rider event is a points race with sprints every 10 laps, with one rider in play at all times, swapping to the teammate with a hand-to-hand sling-shot motion.

Wollaston and Botha won three of the opening five sprints to claim the lead before the CNZ Development team of McKenzie Milne and recent national criterium winner Olivia Ray put a lap on the field to edge in front. However Buchanan, who will become a triple Olympian in Tokyo next year, blew the race apart and together with Hodges won the final three sprints to claim the title.

Vantage was second with the CNZ Development third courtesy of the 20 bonus points for lapping the field.

World silver medallists Gate and Stewart had to work hard before showing their class in the men’s Madison over 40kms.

Early on the international pair of Mark Stewart (GBR) and Adrian Hegyvary (USA) proved challenging with three straight sprint wins while fellow Olympians Jordan Kerby and Regan Gough chimed in with some solid riding mid-race.

However Gate turned up the heat with a stunning ride supported well by Stewart as they put three laps on the field to claim overall honours with 113 points.

Stewart, the 2018 Commonwealth Games points race gold medallists, and Hegyvary won two of the last four sprints, including the final double-points dash, to finish second on 71 with Kerby and Gough third on 58.

On Thursday Gate set a New Zealand record for the 4000m individual pursuit in 4:09.22. His solo ride, which needs official ratification, was more than three seconds inside the previous mark set by Hamish Bond also at the Avantidrome. He joined in a session with the women’s team pursuit squad that rode an Olympic simulation with two full 4000m rides on target.

Some of New Zealand’s leading Para-cyclists are also competing with Waikato-BOP’s Anna Taylor recording a personal best to win the women’s 500m time trial in 39.139s, while Auckland’s Nick Blincoe took out the men’s 1000m time trial in 1:07.866.

Results, Day 1:


Vantage Elite Sprint qualifying: Ellesse Andrews (Waikato BOP) 10.760, 1; Shane Fulton (Tasman) 10.876, 2; Olivia King (WBOP) 11.513, 3; Sophie De Vries (Auckland) 11.870, 4; Lily Cawood (WBOP) 11.879, 5.

Round 1: King bt Sophie de Vries, Cumming bt Lily Cawood, Fulton bt Rhiannon Dunn, Andrews bt Jess Schuler.

New Zealand Madison Championship, 25km: Waikato (Jessie Hodges and Rushlee Buchanan) 41 points, 1; Vantage (Ally Wollaston and Bryony Botha) 30, 2; CNZ Development (McKenzie Milne and Olivia Ray) 23, 3.


Vantage Men Sprint qualifying: Sam Webster (Auckland) 9.622, 1; Ethan Mitchell (Auckland) 9.691, 2; Sam Dakin (Auckland) 9.732, 3; Bradly Knipe (Southland) 9.894, 4; Callum Saunders (Tasman) 9.949, 5.

Round 1: Castle bt Ogle, Saunders bt Patrick Clancy, Knipe bt Jayden Fleming, Dakin bt Hamish Coltman, Webster bt Jared Mann.

New Zealand Madison Championship, 40km: Black Spoke (Aaron Gate, Campbell Stewart) 113 points, 1; USA (Mark Stewart, Adrian Hegyvary) 71, 2; Southern Spas (Jordan Kerby, Regan Gough) 58, 3.

Under-17 Mixed Madison 10km: First National (Seana Gray, Maui Morrison) 43 points, 1; WCNI (Georgia Simpson, Jack Overweel) 32, 2; Waikato Hub (Hamish Banks, Molly Hayes) 8, 3.


Women 500m time trial: Anna Taylor (WBOP) 39.139, 1; Sarah Ellington (Auckland) 42.039, 2.

Men 1000m time trial: Nick Blincoe (Auckland) 1:07.866, 1; Devon Briggs (WBOP) 1:08.055, 2; Ben Westenberg (WBOP) 1:18.312, 3.

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