Kiwi riders thrilled with five gold medals

Eddie Dawkin
Eddie Dawkin
Cycling New Zealand is revelling in the success of its riders at the  UCI Track World Cup meeting that ended at the Avantidrome in Cambridge yesterday. 

The Kiwis won five of the 12 events, along with two bronze medals and  did so in national and world-class times. 

"The event was a significant success as we again showed we can produce world-class events here in Cambridge, which is a tribute to our events team,"  the national body’s acting chief executive, Jacques Landry,  said.

"On the track, the whole team responded to the challenge, not only with success but with outstanding performances like the men’s team pursuit, which recorded the second-fastest time in history.

"We have a largely young team and a new coaching group and they will only grow from this experience."

Yesterday Australian Nathan Hart enjoyed a breakthrough victory in the men’s sprint, with two straight wins in the final over Polish champion Mateusz Rudyk. Hart (25) won the semifinal in two straight rides over Frenchman Sebastien Vigier, both  emphatic performances, and he was equally untroubled in the final for his first World Cup sprint victory.

Both New Zealand riders, Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell, clocked the same time of 9.692sec to be fourth and fifth-fastest respectively, and bypass the first round.  Mitchell lost his first-round quarterfinal against Webster, but fought back to win the next two races and progress to the semifinal. However he was edged by the slimmest of margins on the line by Rudyk in two exciting semifinal rides.  He was pipped in the bronze ride-off over three rides against Vigier.

Inaugural  world champions Jolien D’hoore and Lotte Kopecky, of Belgium, were the dominant force in the women’s Madison, winning five of the eight sprints on their way to the gold medal. New Zealand’s Racquel Sheath and Rushlee Buchanan  took  the final spot on the podium on nine points, two clear of Russia and Belarus.

"It gives us real confidence with our form ... to have them get fourth in the team pursuit shows the depth in our squad."

Martina Fidanza (Italy) unleashed her powerful turn of speed on the final lap to charge clear to scratch race gold ahead of Daria Pikulik (Poland). Subway New Zealand Trade Team’s Jessie Hodges completed the podium. Claudio Imhof, of Switzerland, took the narrowest of victories in the men’s omnium, winning the title by just one point from Raman Tsishkou of Belarus. Imhof’s consistency was key as he finished fourth in the scratch race, third in the tempo and third in the elimination, before controlling the points race to seal the victory.

Individual scratch race winner Christos Volikakis followed up by winning the scratch race and eventually finishing fourth overall. New Zealand’s Regan Gough was eighth after the four-event competition.

Hong Kong’s Lee Wai-sze added the women’s keirin title to her sprint gold medal. She  won it in a photo finish from Great Britain’s Katy Marchant with the winning margin just four 1000ths of a second. Liubov Basova from Ukraine took the bronze medal.

World champion Nicky Degrendele of Belgium missed out on the final, as did New Zealand’s Natasha Hansen, eventually finishing 10th and  seventh respectively. On Saturday, New Zealand scored two victories with the Madison paring of Campbell Stewart and Aaron Gate, and sprint star Eddie Dawkins, winning events.

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