Southland teenager Corbin Strong gave further evidence of his emerging talent with a courageous win in the omnium on day three of the Vantage National Track Championships in Cambridge.
Strong, 19, was recently named as the young member of the Vantage Elite team for next month’s world championships where he has cemented a place in the team pursuit after outstanding form over the summer.
He added to this when he edged out his heroes Aaron Gate and Campbell Stewart to win the Points race on day two, and followed that when he accounted for fellow world championship-bound teammates Nick Kergozou and Regan Gough to win the four-discipline omnium.
Strong was caught in a crash early in the Points race, the final disciple of the omnium, but returned to win three of the final five sprints to claim the race and the overall title after earlier winning the Tempo and Elimination races.
He finished on 149 points ahead of Waikato’s George Jackson on 130 and Nick Kergozou on 127.
“Unfortunately, I got caught in a crash early in the race and it definitely hurt a bit for the next few laps but I managed to push on and pick enough points to get the win which I was pretty happy with,” said Strong.
“Yesterday’s win in the Points race was great riding against the likes of Campbell Stewart and Aaron Gate who are guys I have really looked up to and tonight racing Nick Kergozou and Regan Gough who are my teammates now and I am learning heaps from them every day.
“It is really exciting times for me and I am looking forward to putting in the hard work and giving it my best in the world champs. There are good signs with the Cycle Classic and now here back on the track. Now it is about focussing on the power and on my role in the team pursuit.”
His world championship teammate Eddie Dawkins produced a trademark display to crush a strong field to win the keirin final.
After drawing the back marker, he moved up mid-race and then took charge two laps out to win from Jordan Castle (WCNI) and fellow Southland rider Bradley Knipe.
“It shows that the training we are doing is able to produce power and speed. I tried to make that race as much as it is at the world champs, making it fast for longer, and it worked out great,” said Dawkins.
“There are lots of good feelings about where our sprint group are at physically and mentally looking to the worlds. It is very positive.
“We have played around with a few things and got some varied results. You turn over 10 stones and only three have gems in them but you have to turn over 10 to get three. It is now time to do the little things right and trust in what we have done.”
The championships have been an evolution for two young riders in Tasman sprinter Shaane Fulton and Waikato endurance rider Jessie Hodges.
Fulton claimed her first elite title on day one in the 500m time trial and followed that with a hard-fought battle in the women’s keirin, edging out Vantage Elite rider Ellesse Andrews and Jaymie King, both Waikato BOP.
“This one was pretty special with Ellesse (Andrews) in there as the defending champion. It was an amazing race,” said Fulton. “I saw Ellesse go and thought it could play into my hands but I had to sit tight and let it unfold on the last lap.
“This means a lot. Two national titles is the most I have ever won at a nationals. But to take two elite titles, I am just ecstatic.”
Hodges continued with her super-successful meet, winning the elite women’s 20km Points race after winning the omnium on day two.
With no-one able to gain a lap on the field, Hodges positioned herself best to win four of the eight sprints and amassed points in all but the opening dash. She finished with 32 points, well clear of Southland’s Nicole Shields on 23 and Auckland’s Bryony Botha on 14.
Not to be content, Hodges then outsprinted Vantage Elite riders Ally Wollaston (Waikato BOP) and Kirstie James (Southland) on the final lap to win the 10km scratch race.
Jordan Kerby showed his class to win the men’s 15km scratch race over his Vantage elite teammate Campbell Stewart with Southland’s Tom Sexton third.
In the Under-19 ranks, the brilliant Canterbury pair of Jenna Borthwick and Laurence Pithie continued to shine.
Borthwick added the omnium to the four other titles she has won over three days, winning the scratch race and elimination race, fourth in the tempo and third in the points race to claim the overall honours.
Pithie was all class in winning the individual pursuit final in a slick 3:16.084 over fellow Cantabrian Ryan MacLeod, and followed this with the Points race title, picking up points in seven of the eight sprints. He won with 29 points from Waikato BOP’s Zakk Patterson on 21 and Canterbury’s Ryan MacLeod on 10.
The championships finish on Sunday with the event livestreamed for the afternoon sessions on Sky Sport NZ Next Youtube channel https://tinyurl.com/ur24rz2
Men, omnium: Corbin Strong (Southland) 149 points, 1; George Jackson (Waikato BOP) 130, 2; Nick Kergozou (Southland) 127, 3.
Women 20km Points race: Jessie Hodges (Waikato BOP) 32 points, 1; Nicole Shields (Southland) 23 points, 2; Bryony Botha (Auckland) 14 points, 3.
Men, Keirin: Eddie Dawkins (Southland) 1, Jordan Castle (WCNI) 2, Bradley Knipe (Southland) 3.
Women Keirin: Shaane Fulton (Tasman) 1, Ellesse Andrews (Waikato BOP) 2, Jaymie King (Waikato BOP) 3.
Women Scratch: Jessie Hodges (Waikato BOP) 1, Ally Wollaston (Waikato BOP) 2, Kirstie James (Southland) 3.
Men Scratch: Jordan Kerby (WCNI) 1, Campbell Stewart (WCNI) 2, Tom Sexton (Southland) 3.
Men, 3000m individual pursuit, gold medal: Laurence Pithie (Canterbury) 3:16.084, 1; Ryan MacLeod (Canterbury) 3:18.697, 2. Bronze medal: Reuben Webster (Canterbury) 3:21.036, 3; Zakk Patterson (Waikato BOP) 3:23.659, 4.
Women Sprint, gold medal: Mikaela Grant (Canterbury) bt Tyla Green (Southland) 2-0; bronze medal: Jennifer Browne (Southland) bt Harriet Rowse (Canterbury) 2-0.
Men Sprint, gold medal: Sebastian Lipp (Canterbury) bt Kaio Lart (Tasman) 2-0; bronze medal: Ethan Titheridge (Mid South Canterbury) bt Michael Audeau (Canterbury) 2-0.
Women Omnium: Jenna Borthwick (Canterbury) 126 points, 1; Prudence Fowler (Canterbury) 120, 2; Rhylee Akeroyd (Southland) 119, 3.
Men Points Race )20km): Laurence Pithie 29 points, 1; Zakk Patterson (Waikato BOP) 21, 2; Ryan MacLeod (Canterbury) 10, 3.