What they lack in population they make up for in commitment and quiet, understated determination. New Zealand are the subject of our fourth World Cup preview.
trackcycling’s coverage of the Track Cycling World Cup is sponsored by Brooks Cycles
Few World Championship nations punch as far above their weight as New Zealand does. That honour might be challenged in the Commonwealth Games where, on the track at least, Scotland, Wales and, in particular, the Isle of Man would run them close on a medals per capita basis, but in UCI events their performance is remarkable finishing 7th overall in the Medals table in Manchester in 2008 and 6th in Pruzkow in 2009. The last two years have seen them slip back a bit, finishing 10th on both occasions, but a new crop of young endurance riders and more depth in the Sprint squad could see them climbing back up the table.
Like the Australians, the Kiwis recently held their National Championships in Invercargill and they provide a better guide to for than a relatively quiet World Cup campaign. They sent a single rider to Astana – Gemma Dudley sent a strong squad to Cali and it paid off with Golds for Alison Shanks in the Individual Pursuit and the Men’s Team Pursuit squad and Silvers for Simon van Velthooven in the Kilo and the Women’s Team Pursuit squad to finish second in the Medals table behind Germany. At the Beijing round there were Bronze medals for both the Men’s Team Sprint and Team Pursuit squads and a Gold for Peter Latham in the Men’s Individual Pursuit to leave them 9th in the World Cup Standings – two places ahead of Great Brtitain.
Back to the action at the Stadium Southland Velodrome in Invercargill where Peter Latham topped the qualifying session for the Men’s Individual Pursuit with a 4:21.379 with Westley Gough in second, a quarter of a secondd back. That was how they finished in the Final, with both men slightly of their qualifying pace. To put those times into perspective, only three Australians went quicker at their Nationals and none of the British riders at their Nationals back in September – although there were a few big names missing in Manchester, including Geraint Thomas. And it still wasn’t enough to earn Latham a place in London.
In the Women’s Individual Pursuit, Kaytee Boyd just edged out Rushlee Buchanan in the final – by two hundredths of a second – with a time of 3:41.977 – but in contrast to Latham that’s 11 seconds off both Annette Edmondson’s Australian Record pace and Jo Rowsell’s time to secure the Great Britain National Champion’s journey. Missing from Invercargill, though – and on the roster for London – was 2009 World Champion and 2011 Silver medalist Alison Shanks whose Gold Medal time in Beijing was over a second inside Edmondson’s and Rowsell’s National Champs times…
Ethan Mitchell, Simon van Velthooven and Sam Webster looked good in the Team Sprint riding for Auckland and clocking a very competitive 44.268 – three hundredths off the time Jason Kenny, Matt Crampton and Sir Chris Hoy set at Revolution 36 last month. The fourth member of the Sprint squad for London, Eddie Dawkins, was in the second placed Southland squad.
Dawkins set the fastest time in Sprint qualification – 10.169 and beat Webster in the Final. In the Women’s competition, Natasha Hansen clocked 11.219, ahead of Katie Schofield. Schofield went on to take the Bronze with Hansen beating Stephanie Mackenzie in the Final. Dawkins and Hansen also took top honours in the Keirin.
Omnium specialist Joanne Kiesanowski was looking good in the bunch races – taking Gold in the Points and Scratch races with Aaron Gate taking the Men’s Scratch race and Tom Scully – who isn’t in the squad for London – pipping Wes Gough – who is – in the Points race.
In the Men’s Team Pursuit, the Waikato Bay of Plenty squad of Sam Bewley, Peter Latham, Scott Creighton and Hamish McCormick qualified fastest in 4:15.185 and caught their opponents. Bewley who will team up with Marc Ryan, Wes Gough and Aaron Gate in London – will know they need to get down around the four minute mark to be in with a chance of a Medal. Still, the medals should be between New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain and Russia. The Women’s Team Pursuit squad – and former World Record holders – Alison Shanks, Jaime Neilsen and Lauren Ellis will be there or thereabouts, too – we reckon one place higher than their male counterparts. The last time they weren’t on the World Championship podium was 2008…
Simon VAN VELTHOOVEN