The Cycling New Zealand track team have been awarded the World Cup Round Winner as top team following their medal haul in the UCI World Cup in Los Angeles today.
The team won four medals today following their five-medal effort yesterday in Los Angeles, the most they have ever achieved in a single World Cup, which earned the World Cup Round Winner award for the first time in nearly 20 years.
Jaime Neilsen in the individual pursuit; the start of the men’s team sprint final and the New Zealand team awarded as World Cup Round winners. Photo: Guy Swarbrick.
Today’s medal run was led by a gold medal in the men’s team sprint where the trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins edged out Germany for the victory in a hard-fought encounter
They won a silver medal in the Women’s Madison with Rio Olympian Racquel Sheath teaming with 18-year-old Michaela Drummond, while the teenager tyros Campbell Stewart and Tom Sexton combined to claim a bronze medal in Men’s Madison as did Olympian Jaime Nielsen Women’s Individual Pursuit.
It proved a gruelling day for key sprinter Webster, who combined two rounds of the team sprint with the keirin competition. In between keirin rounds, he was man-two in the strong morning ride of 43.620 in the first round of the team sprint, which earned them the gold medal ride with Germany who were 33/100ths of a second slower.
By the time the final was run, Webster had completed three races in the keirin and he felt decidedly second hand. Up stepped Mitchell who was again fastest in the opening lap of the final in 17.3 as the Germans fought back to within 0.1s at the 500m mark before Dawkins showed his poise and power to produce a superb final lap for the New Zealanders to win in 43.710, with the Germans nearly 0.3s behind.
“It’s been a really big day for me with 12 hours at the track yesterday and about the same today. I am really pleased to come away with the win,” said Webster. “The other two boys really stepped up as I was in a really big state of fatigue.
“It is a hugely motivating thing to see the people around you stepping up and making massive gains. I’ve great guys around me. We all buy into the vision and when one person steps up it urges everyone else to find the best within them.
“We are in good shape. We did a lot of work before we got here but the work is far from done. It is a hugely exciting prospect for where we are at but there’s work to be done and specifics that need to be met.
“It shows we are on a good trajectory but we need to keep our heads down and be fastidious with our preparations over the next six weeks.”
Nielsen was another of the experienced group to find a spot on the podium today with an excellent 3:34.056 effort to dispose of Poland’s Justyna Kaczkowska by a second in the 3000m individual pursuit.
To contrast the efforts of the proven performers were the outstanding efforts from the teenagers.
Drummond, a junior world champion, fitted in well to the women’s team pursuit quartet that won the silver medal yesterday before teaming with Sheath in the 20km Madison, a two-person points race with one rider in play at all times, with one rider hand-slinging the other into the contest.
While the Australian combination scored minor points throughout, the Kiwis put everything into the final two sprints, winning the double-points final sprint. However the Australians managed to edge out Italy on the line to take second in the final sprint, and pip the Kiwis for overall honours by a single point.
The men’s combination of Stewart from Palmerston North and Sexton from Invercargill, both junior world champions, worked well, picking up points in 10 of the 12 sprints in the Madison.
Ireland were the only team to put two laps on the field to cement the victory with Denmark’s bold sprint for second in the final sprint enough to edge the New Zealand pair for the silver medal by one point.
It was an exciting effort from Stewart and Sexton who each won medals on the first day, and will no doubt put pressure on the incumbents for April’s world championships and next year’s Commonwealth Games.
The team returns tomorrow and after a break will set to work in the six week build towards the world championships in Hong Kong.