Alison Shanks, of New Zealand, shows off her medal after
winning the women's individual pursuit final at the UCI
Track World Cup at Laoshan Velodrome in Beijing on
Saturday. Photo by Getty Images.
Dunedin international cyclist Alison Shanks started her
2009 racing campaign with a significant victory in the 3000m
individual pursuit at the World Cup in Beijing at the weekend.
She is not prepared to rest on her laurels though, and wants
to crack the 3min 30sec barrier at the world championships in
Poland at the end of March.
Shanks (26) does not see the target as a barrier.
It is more a necessity and something she must do to advance
her cycling career.
"I've got to get into the 3min 20sec [range] to be
competitive at the worlds," Shanks said from Beijing.
Shanks beat Latvia's Vilija Sereikaite, the World Cup
individual pursuit points leader, in emphatic fashion in the
3000m final on Saturday morning. Fourth at the Beijing
Olympics, Shanks lowered her personal best for the distance
yet again, to 3min 30.685sec.
It was 2sec under her best time at the Olympics and nearly a
full second under her previous best, set in the qualifying
run on a cold Laoshan track in the morning.
Shanks was almost 5sec faster than Sereikaite in qualifying
and she crushed the Latvian in the final.
"I was very excited to get a two-second personal best in the
middle of a Chinese winter," Shanks said.
"I'm now reaping the rewards of my massive build-up for the
Olympics last year.
"I had a good rest after the Olympics and my body is now
building back into racing form and is fresh for the new
"I'm stoked about my performance.
"It was a hard race but I felt awesome.
"Some days you just click and it did this for me today."
It was a remarkable start to Shanks' competitive year.
"It is Alison's first competition since the Olympics," her
coach, Craig Palmer, said.
"To produce this quality of performance after four months off
the track was outstanding.
"Every time she steps on to the track Ali seems to ride
faster and is now ready to challenge the best in the world."
Palmer said only six female cyclists had broken the 3min
30sec barrier for the 3000m individual pursuit.
The world record of 3min 24.537sec was set by New Zealand's
Sarah Ulmer at the Athens Olympic final in 2004.
"On a warmer track she would have done it here," Palmer said.
Shanks combined with Kaytee Boyd and Lauren Ellis yesterday
to clock a superb time of 3min 28.044sec to be the fastest of
all qualifiers in the teams pursuit.
They will ride off against China for the gold medal this
It is the first time this combination has ridden together in
competition, with women's teams pursuit added to the
International Cycling Union's world championship programme
only last year.
Shanks arrives back in Dunedin early this week.