More gold for Kiwi cyclists

Aaron Gate with his son Axel and teammate and silver medalist Campbell Stewart. Photo: Getty Images
Aaron Gate with his son Axel and teammate and silver medalist Campbell Stewart. Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand has finished as the top nation in the track cycling at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games after another golden day for the riders in black.

Ellesse Andrews and Aaron Gate both won titles today meaning they finished the programme with three gold medals each.

Andrews won the Keirin final with a controlled ride after taking the lead with two laps to go.

The 22-year-old was impressive through qualifying and was one of the favourites for the title after claiming the silver medal at last year's Olympics.

She had previously won gold medals in the individual and team sprints and admitted to Sky Sport that she hadn't expected to do so well.

"I'm so overwhelmed, I came here obviously wanting to my absolute best and leave everything out on the track but I never could have imagined that this would be the final outcome."

In all three races, Andrews hit the front in the final laps and simply overpowered her opponents who were helpless to come past her.

In her first heat, she rode the opposition off her wheel on the final lap to win, in the second round she remarkably rode on the front for the final three laps to win in absurdly easy fashion, and in the final she made a move to storm past a pair of Welsh riders and held off England's Sophie Capewell by 0.05 seconds.

Andrews explained her strategy to hit the front early came via a mentality to leave nothing to chance.

"I like to put myself in a position to win and to do that you need to do it in every round, you have to qualify in the first and second races to make it to the final so I'm racing every race like it's my last to ensure I can make it through the rounds."However, that ruthless strategy was juxtaposed by her relaxed demeanour pre-race, which the 22-year-old says was crucial to maintaining a good mindset.

"I was really relaxed, I just wanted to come out here and have some fun.

"I've been so happy with my campaign and I wanted to go as hard as I could but it was most important for me that I had fun and enjoyed myself, because you're in such a good relaxed mindset when you're thinking about that stuff. The rest of the race just follows."

Andrews also filled in in the team pursuit following an injury and helped them to a silver medal.

Ellesse Andrews after winning the keirin and claiming her fourth medal of the Games. Photo: Getty...
Ellesse Andrews after winning the keirin and claiming her fourth medal of the Games. Photo: Getty Images
An hour later, Gate dominated the last event on the programme - the men's points race - to join Andrews on as a triple-gold medal winner.

He won some of the early sprints to take the lead and then with the help of his team-mates was able to keep the opposition at bay.

Gate finished on 45 points, while teammate Campbell Stewart was second with 38 and Englishman Oli Wood was third with 35 points.

Gate also won gold in the individual and team pursuit.

Corbin Strong, gold medallist in the scratch race, played the role of faithful teammate, keeping the race together to ensure none of New Zealand's rivals could take a lap on the field and the 20 points that came with it.

Strong's commitment to the domestique role was such that he remained pointless until 10 laps to go, while Gate finished on 45, collecting points on 13 of the 16 sprints that were held every 10 laps to decide the victor.

England's Wood tried to disrupt Gate's ride to gold but New Zealand's tactical masterclass ensured they weren't troubled, with a three-point lead with 70 laps to go slowly being extended with each passing sprint.

Wood looked set for silver but the Kiwi team, aware that Gate had gold sown up if he stayed on the bike, decided to have Gate lead out Stewart for the final sprint worth double points.

Stewart won the sprint in style to nab silver ahead of Wood and deliver a 1-2 for New Zealand in a race completely controlled by the Kiwi trio.

While it was Gate's third trip to the top of the podium, he told Sky Sport this one was special.

"It's a good chance to refresh my singing of the national anthem, so it's pretty special, it's not something I've got to do many times in my life so it's something I'll definitely always cherish and to have my good friend Campbell (Stewart) standing next to me was absolutely awesome."

Michaela Drummond won silver in the women's scratch race, after a crash forced teammate Bryony Botha out of the 40km event.

New Zealand topped the medal table with 8 gold, 4 silver and 1 bronze medals.

Australia was second and Scotland third.

New Zealand now has 12 gold medals in total.

 - RNZ/NZ Herald

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