New Zealand's young sprint cyclists had to settle for an
agonising silver medal in the men's team sprint final at the
UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk, Belarus
The Kiwis were pipped by the might of Germany, who won their
third rainbow jersey in four years in the men's team sprint.
New Zealand stunned their more illustrious and powerful
sprint cycling nations when they topped the qualifying with a
sea-level best of 43.580 to put them in the gold medal ride
against Germany who clocked 43.731. This was significantly
ahead of powerhouse teams of France, Australia, Russia and
"It was a great ride but at the same time I knew we had to go
faster in the final and I knew Germany would bring all their
experience and talent to bear," BikeNZ sprint coach Justin
"Two of their three riders were in the Olympics team and they
have not been off the podium in this event at the world
championships for a long time."
Auckland's Ethan Mitchell produced a strong 17.361 start,
just 4/100ths behind the Germans. Sam Webster, in blinding
form, stormed around in 12.784 to put the kiwis up by
15/100ths of a second before handing over to Invercargill's
The big Southlander clocked an excellent 13.399 to again
lower their best sea-level time to 43.544s but a stunning lap
by Maximillian Levy gave the edge to the Germans by the
narrowest of margins.
"Half way around that final Lap I thought we would hold it
but Maximillian is not a world champion for nothing," said
"It's mixed emotions. The boys are gutted they could not win
the rainbow jersey but at the same time they did another best
ride and have a silver medal.
"We are still so young. Simon is the oldest in our squad of
five riders at just 24, with Matt Archibald not here. We used
to come to the world championships for experience and now we
come to win.
"We set this programme up originally for Rio but they have
advanced so quickly and continue to better our projections.
We now have the respect of the world cycling powers from
countries with 80 to 100 million people and massive budgets.
"That's a credit to the BikeNZ programme, the support of High
performance Sport New Zealand and also the talent, dedication
and hard work of this group of young riders."
Earlier France edged out Australia to claim the bronze medal.
New Zealand's team sprint were fifth in the 2010 world
championships in 44.450, sixth in 2011 in 45.032, third last
year (after two disqualifications to other teams) in 43.742
and now they have lowered this to 43.544.
New Zealand's sprinters are back in action tomorrow with
Olympic medallist Simon Van Velthooven and Dawkins in the
keirin while Aaron Gate begins day one of the six-discipline