New Zealand cycling's young guns have collected a three-medal
haul from five riders at the UCI Track Cycling World
Championships that finished in Minsk, Belarus today.
Auckland 21-year-old Sam Webster had to settle for fourth
place in the sprint, taking event winner Stefan Botticher of
Germany to a deciding ride in the semifinal before narrowly
going down in the bronze medal ride to Frenchman Francois
Pervis who won three medals in Minsk.
Webster became the first New Zealand rider to qualify for the
sprint finals at the world championships and along with Simon
van Velthooven, it is the first time two Kiwis made it to the
"This is the first world championships that I've turned up to
with really good condition. After the Olympics, we made some
big changes to training and the way we approach training
which gave me the mental freshness," said Webster.
"I am really happy. Today in the second day I did make a
couple of mistakes which is why I finished fourth but that
experience will be invaluable. I am happy I beat the Olympic
champ two straight and took the eventual winner to three
"I didn't have an easy way through and have been in some hard
rides so I am pleased with how I stepped up. It was good that
it came together and now gives me a good platform to build
The team finished with the gold medal to 22-year-old Aaron
Gate in the omnium, silver medals to the team sprint and Van
Velthooven in the 1km time trial and fourth placing to
Webster in the sprint.
"The focus was taking a small team away who were all capable
of winning medals and they have delivered on that, even
exceeded that," said BikeNZ high performance director, Mark
"From this world championship it proves our sprinters now
deserve to be in the position to ride for medals. We spent
the last few years developing them to where they can
challenge, but now our expectations will be that we can get
them into medal positions all the time.
"With the experience they have received from these world
championships it will stand them in really good stead in the
next three years.
"They have a lot of physiological development to go and we
have a really strong sports science and strength and
conditioning programme that lays the foundation. Then we have
to get that right at the top racing experience.
"We need to do that more often and combine it with the sports
science and you just don't know where these sprinters will go
in the future."
Elliott said he was also thrilled with the performance from
Gate and a vindication of the European-based development
programme over the last four years.
"We spotted his talent four years ago and he has spent that
time doing his apprenticeship riding with top team pursuiters
like Marc Ryan and Jesse Sergent. Now he has taken that
tactical knowledge and that power work we did early on and
transferred that across to the omnium.
"The fact he is the world champion is exciting for us. We
want to see him grow from that and dominate this discipline
and for us it is important that this knowledge he gains can
transfer across to the team pursuit.
"Aaron came through our development programme that we put in
place more than three years ago and the fact we now have a
world title out of it shows the positive nature of that
investment. This year we are not just doing that with two or
three riders but we are sending eight to Europe and that will
hold us in good stead not just for this Olympic cycle but
The young sprint quartet, with an average age of only 22
years, has moved into the top echelon of sprinting. With a
silver medal coming after victory in the recent World Cup,
they are now a genuine threat in the team sprint.
Webster became the first New Zealander to make a medal round
in the sprints after becoming the fastest Kiwi at sea-level
He took the honours to Botticher in the first semifinal,
controlling the sprint and holding off the German in the
challenge. The second race was the closest with the German
only just rolling Webster, with only 8/1000ths of a second
separating the young Kiwi from qualification to the final.
Botticher jumped Webster from behind to take the inside run,
and his sudden move gave him the winning break and a place in
The 21-year-old, a former triple junior world champion, made
a strong move from the front in the first race in the bronze
medal rider against Pervis, but the Frenchman got over the
top 10m from the line to go one-up. While Webster challenged
strongly in the second, Pervis had too much power.
Men Sprint, semifinals: Stefan Botticher (GER) bt Sam Webster
(NZL) 2-1, Denis Dmitriev (RUS) bt Francois Pervis (FRA) 2-1.
Final: Botticher bt Dmitriev 2-0.
Bronze match: Pervis bt Webster 2-0.