World champs strutting stuff

Sam Welsford, who will compete in Invercargill this week, leads the pack at a race in April....
Sam Welsford, who will compete in Invercargill this week, leads the pack at a race in April. Photo: Getty Images
You can puff your chest out a bit more when you are wearing the rainbow jersey of a world champion.

And there will be plenty of rainbow jerseys on display when the international track season gets under way at the Oceania Championships in Invercargill today.

About 180 riders from Australia and New Zealand will compete in the four-day UCI continental championship at the velodrome in Invercargill.

As well as Oceania titles, the meet offers all-important qualifying spots for next year's UCI world championships.

It will also be a shakedown for riders before the UCI track world cup season, which is highlighted with back-to-back events at Cambridge on December 6-8 and in Brisbane the following week.

The winners of 25 world championship rainbow jerseys will be competing in Invercargill to add some real sparkle to the event as the leading riders prepare for a massive nine months leading into the Tokyo Olympics.

The charge from across the Tasman comes from their sprinters led by four-time team sprint world champion Kaarle McCulloch and 2018 individual sprint world champion Matt Glaetzer, along with Sam Welsford, a three-time team pursuit world champion and the scratch race rainbow jersey holder.

The New Zealand rainbow wearers are three-time team sprint trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins, 2017 individual pursuit winner Jordan Kerby and omnium world champion Campbell Stewart.

Australia is coming with a strong sprint group of McCulloch and Stephanie Morton, the 2017 team sprint world champions, in the females and Glaetzer and Nathan Hart in the males.

Team pursuit world champions Welsford and Kelland O'Brien will pair up to focus on the two-rider Madison, a new addition to the Olympic schedule.

The elite New Zealand team will be competing in force with its entire squad, as well as some riding for their centres.

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