The New Zealand men’s team pursuit will take on Russia for the bronze medal after the opening day of competition at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Germany.
The women’s team pursuit squad qualified second fastest as they move into the first round on day two, looking for a place in the final.
An 11-strong New Zealand team are contesting the five-day championships that have attracted over 350 riders from 40 nations to the Oderlandhalle Velodrome in Frankfurt-Oder, on the border of Germany and Poland.
The junior men’s squad is a completely new combination this year from the team that won the gold medal in Switzerland last year. The quartet of Lachie Dickson, Conor Shearing, Laurence Pithie and Keegan Hornblow clocked 4:03.913 to be fourth fastest from the 18 nations in qualifying, just behind France, with Germany and Russia one second faster.
It pitted the Kiwis against top-ranked Germany for the first-round in the evening, where the winner would gain automatic entry to the gold medal ride on day two.
New Zealand, who brought in Kiaan Watts as planned for the evening ride, changed tactics to match-race the powerful German team for a place in the final. They started the fastest of all teams with a 1:03 first kilometre followed by splits of 58s and 59s to be neck-and-neck with the Germans at 3000m on world record pace.
However, the efforts took their toll with the New Zealanders fading over the final kilometre to clock 4:02.907 while the Germans went on to clock 4:00.420 to break the world record. That did not last long with France going faster again with a 4:00.384 effort against Russia in their first-round effort.
The New Zealanders’ time held on for fourth fastest among the eight qualifiers which means they will ride against Russia for the bronze medal on day two, with France and hosts Germany riding for the gold medal.
“The men did not quite execute either ride to perfection,” said coach Myron Simpson. “But we decided to race Germany and give it a go for the chance to make the final. The boys went out just too fast really and while we held on for 3kms we paid the price in that final kilo.
“We felt it was a risk worth taking, and with two good rides under their belts, they will be well placed to put in a top effort for the bronze medal ride with nothing to lose.”
The female combination, with three riders back from the team that won silver last year, were impressive and in control in their qualifying effort. The combination of Sami Donnelly, Ally Wollaston, McKenzie Milne and Emily Paterson were second fastest with a 4:29.935 effort, only edged by last year’s world champions Italy who went 4:28.192. The Kiwis went out in 1:10 for the opening kilometre and followed with splits of 1:06, 1:06 and 1:07.
“The girls were cohesive and in control throughout. They know they have more in the tank and it was a very good first-up ride. They will now set themselves for their first-round ride against Russia tomorrow to hopefully get them into the final.”
The other rider in action was Hamilton rider Olivia King who finished 14th in the final of the 7.5km scratch race won by Australia’s Ella Sibley.
Day 1 NZ Results:
Women team pursuit qualifying: Italy 4:28.192, 1; New Zealand (Emily Paterson, McKenzie Milne, Ally Wollaston, Sami Donnelly) 4:29.935, 2; Russia 4:3.239, 3; Germany 4:36.561, 4.
Men team pursuit qualifying: Germany 4:02.519, 1; Russia 4:02.771, 2; France 4:03.508, 3; New Zealand (Keegan Hornblow, Laurence Pithie, Conor Shearing, Lachlan Dickson) 4:03.913, 4.
First-Round: France 4:00.384, 1 (world record); Russia 4:02.543, 2. Germany 4:00.420, 1; New Zealand (Hornblow, Pithie, Kiaan Watts, Dickson) 4:02.907, 2.
Women 7.5km scratch race: Ella Sibley (AUS) 1, Catalina Soto Campos (CHI) 2, Tsuyaka Uchino (JPN) 3. Also: Olivia King (NZL) 14.