NZ riders impress at Oceania track championships

New Zealand track cyclists can turn their attentions to the all-important UCI Nations Cup in Hong Kong fresh from some impressive performances at the UCI Oceania Track Cycling Championships in Cambridge.

Cycling New Zealand high performance director Ryan Hollows said his coaches were pleased with the form and hard work put in by the riders over the five days, as they put their hands up for selection for Hong Kong and ultimately the Olympic Games.

Leading the way were world champion Aaron Gate and Nations Cup winner Ally Wollaston, who won 10 Oceania titles between them, on a week when Gate was named Halberg Sportsman of the Year.

Gate, who set a national record in the individual pursuit earlier in the competition, sported his rainbow jersey as world champion in the final points race.

He bided his time as team-mates George Jackson and Keegan Hornblow turned up the heat. Gate responded by catching up a lap lost early, then lapping the field twice to be 10 points clear. Jackson then pushed clear to win the final double points sprint. However, Gate sprinted out from the pack to nab fourth place with the two bonus points giving him a stunning victory.

He finished with 91 points from Jackson on 89 and Hornblow on 72.

Wollaston, the recent UCI Nations Cup elimination race winner, had no trouble claiming the Oceania honours in the same event, cruising home to beat team-mates Bryony Botha and Michaela Drummond.

She returned for the penultimate race of the day, the 25km points race, where she dominated, finishing well clear on 57 points from team-mates Michaela Drummond (36) and Emily Shearman (22).

Australian Tom Cornish won the men’s 1000m time trial in 59min 255sec, the discipline in which he won a bronze medal at last year’s world championship. He was the only rider to finish under the minute mark. Compatriot Byron Davies was second and Southland’s Nick Kergozou third in 1min 1.067sec.

Auckland’s Elena Worrall saved the best until last, winning in a photo-finish to claim the final sprint in the points race and the junior women’s omnium title on countback.

Australian Hayley Dell won the Tempo and Scratch races ahead of Worrall, while fellow Australian Lilyth Jones won the elimination.

Jones was strong in the 15km Points race to gain the overall omnium lead until Worrall’s last-gasp- sprint, which drew her level on 129 points, winning the overall omnium honours on countback. Dell finished third four points behind.

Canterbury rider Matt Davidson claimed the early advantage and took out the key sprints in the points race to win the junior men’s omnium. Davidson won the scratch race and tempo and after the elimination, won by Te Awamutu’s Magnus Jamieson, the Canterbury rider led going into the points race. He rode strongly to finish on 127 points, nine clear of Daniel Morton (Auckland) with Jamieson third.

The junior keirin honours went to New Zealand’s Caitlin Kelly in the females and Australian Tayte Ryan in the males.

— Staff reporter