There will be plenty of world champions’ bling on display when the track cycling international season gets underway at the Oceania Championships in Invercargill.
Around 180 riders from Australia and New Zealand will compete in the four-day UCI continental championship from 16-19 October at the SIT Zero Fees Velodrome in Invercargill. As well as Oceania titles, the championship offers all-important qualifying spots for next year’s UCI World Championships.
It will also be a shakedown for riders ahead of the UCI Track World Cup season, which is highlighted with back-to-back events at Cambridge on 6-8 December and the following week in Brisbane.
The winners of 25 world championship rainbow jerseys will be competing at Invercargill to add some real sparkle to the event as the leading riders amp-up for a massive nine months ahead to the Tokyo Olympics.
The charge from across the Tasman comes from their sprinters led by four-time team sprint world champion Kaarle McCulloch and 2018 individual sprint world champion Matt Glaetzer, along with Sam Welsford, a three-time team pursuit world champion and the current scratch race rainbow jersey holder.
The Vantage New Zealand rainbow wearers include three-time team sprint victors Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins, the 2017 individual pursuit winner Jordan Kerby and current omnium world champion, Campbell Stewart.
Current Australian team pursuit world champions Welsford and Kelland O’Brien will pair-up to focus on the two-rider Madison, which is a new addition to the Olympic schedule.
The Vantage elite New Zealand team will be competing in force with their entire squad, with some riding for their centres as well.
“Our endurance and sprint teams have worked hard over the winter in building a base for the upcoming track season. So this is a good opportunity for as many of our best riders, both elite and junior, to stretch their legs in very strong competition,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.
“It is firstly a chance for us to find out where all the riders are at in terms of their development and what they need to focus on. It will give us information we need to select final combinations for the world cup season coming up, especially the home round in Cambridge,” said Barras.
“It also offers some important ranking points towards the world championships.
“We will also be watching with real interest in the development of our junior riders, particularly the ones who have been prominent internationally this year.”