Cycling: Team pursuit gold for NZ women

The fledgling New Zealand women's cycling team stunned the competition to grab gold in the team pursuit at the World Cup cycling in Beijing today.

The trio of Alison Shanks, Kaytee Boyd and Lauren Ellis set the second fastest time in the world for the 3000m with a superb 3:24.421 in beating hosts China in the final at the Laoshan Velodrome.

It is the first time this combination has ridden together in competition, with women's pursuit only added to the world championship programme last year.

World champions Great Britain, who did not compete in force at Beijing, clocked 3:22.425 to win the title in Manchester last year with a combination including the Olympic gold and silver individual pursuit medallists.

The New Zealand trio, headed by World Cup gold medallist in the individual pursuit Shanks, includes Ellis from Ashburton, who is just out of the junior ranks, and former mountainbiker Boyd of Auckland.

Earlier they topped the qualifiers in 3:28.044 from China, Lithuania and Russia.

National track coach Tim Carswell said the performance had stunned everyone.

"They were brilliant. It's very exciting and the girls are naturally absolutely stoked," Carswell said.

The win also means that New Zealand leads the World Cup standings.

"We talked coming in here at the hope that we could go under 3min 30 sec at Beijing and possibly go under 3:25 at the world championships. We have bowled that already and will have to reset our sights. If we can improve further, they we can push for a medal in Poland."

Carswell said he had been delighted with how the combination had developed.

"They have worked exceptionally hard in the last 10 weeks that's for sure.

"I think we are in for an exciting time because this combination are just starting, plus we have some others back home who will be pushing hard for places."

Carswell said Shanks had been the leader in Beijing and was fizzing to have other women in the programme.

"Lauren is a young rider with immense potential who was our strongest rider in the young team we took to the Melbourne World Cup."

Boyd had been the surprise package, coming out of BikeNZ's Power to Podium talent identification programme.

"I thought that may be by next year we might see her really develop," Carswell said.

"While she has good skills from her background in BMX and mountainbiking, she only got on a track bike for the first time a few weeks ago.

"It is remarkable to think that 10 weeks ago she sat on a track bike for the first time and now she is a world cup gold medallist. How exciting is that?"

Carswell said the women's team pursuit gold had set the seal on an outstanding campaign and now the whole group were focusing on the final build-up to the world championships in nine weeks.

The team finished with four gold medals, Shanks and Jesse Sergent picking up one apiece in the individual pursuit, Hayden Godfrey taking the scratch race, and the women's team pursuit winning today. The men's team pursuit picked up silver.

The campaign finished with the pairing of Marc Ryan and Godfrey finishing fifth in the madison. They were part of group of five that put a lap on the field but then Australian stole a further lap to take the overall honours while the New Zealanders won the penultimate sprint but could not repeat it in the final sprint to sneak on to the podium.

While world super powers Great Britain and Australia were not in Beijing in full strength, the performances from New Zealand give an indication they are continuing to build on the successes at the Olympics as they push forward to next year's Commonwealth Games, the 2012 London Olympics and beyond.

New Zealand results, day 3:

Women's team pursuit, final, 3000m: New Zealand (Alison Shanks, Lauren Boyle, Kaytee Boyd) 3:24.421 1, China 3:29.750 2, Russia 3:29:889 3, Lithuania 3:31.556.

Qualifying: New Zealand 3:28.044 1, China 3:32.912 2, Lithuania 3:33.025 3, Russia 3:33.975 4.

Men's sprint: Simon Van Velthooven 10.846 29, Hayden Godfrey 10:861 30.

Men's madison, 20km: Australia 2 laps 1, Great Britain 13 points 1 lap 2, Germany 9 points 1 lap 3, Spain 8 points 1 lap 8, New Zealand (Marc Ryan, Hayden Godfrey) 5 points 1 lap 5.

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