New Zealand’s teenage team pursuiters highlighted the final day of the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Canada.
The men’s team pursuit, with an average age under 20 years, took out the gold medal in the final over hosts Canada, with their winning time of 3:59.00 the fastest in competition for this young combination.
It proved a strong World Cup performance for the Vantage Elite Team, with six podium performances including two gold medals to the men’s team sprint and the team pursuit.
Today’s other medals were a silver to Ethan Mitchell in the individual sprint and third to Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond in the women’s madison, along with two close fourth placings to Natasha Hansen in the keirin and Campbell Stewart in the omnium.
The quartet of Nick Kergozou, Jared Gray, Tom Sexton and Stewart, who came in to the final for debutant Harry Waine, found themselves one second down at the 2000m mark before the Canadians lost a rider who fell. The Kiwis came home in 1:55 for the final 2000m to win by a second.
“It’s unreal really because we have come here to focus on our processes and not time. We wanted to nail all three rides and execute to our plan and it came off, and got our best time as well which is a bonus,” Kergozou said.
“Rather than racing against the opposition we just focussed on ourselves. Even in the final we focussed on riding to a schedule. We knew we had plenty in the tank and stayed relaxed even when Canada had a one second lead.
“From 2.5km we responded and finished strongly with all four riders, which was another goal.
“I am the old man of the team at 21. We are developing a great culture and starting to really click. There’s a long way to go but we are moving in the right direction, and keen to follow this up with another good performance in Chile next week.”
Mitchell, the world bronze medallist, displayed further evidence of his rising fortune to be third fastest in qualifying in 9.734s, which was just 5/100ths off his sea level best set last month in London. He edged out teammate Sam Webster in the second round before accounting for Great Britain’s Philip Hindes in two straight rides in the quarterfinal and requiring a deciding ride to eliminate Canada’s Hugo Barrette in the semifinal.
He pushed hard but could not match the power of top qualifier Jeffrey Hoogland (NED) in two rides in the final, but continues to show the form to rise to the top echelon in the sprint.
Hansen also enjoyed a strong competition, following her fourth placing in the sprint after being third fastest in qualifying with fourth place today in the final of the keirin as she edges closer to the sharp end of international competition.
Stewart had to mix four hard races in the omnium with a ride in the men’s team pursuit final into a massive day for the super-talented teenager.
The five-time junior world medallist finished just three points off the bronze medal in the omnium. Stewart was 10th in the 10km scratch race, seventh in the 10km Tempo where a point is awarded for the winner of each lap, second in the elimination and fourth in the 25km points race.
Yesterday he joined with former junior world silver medal teammate Sexton to win the silver medal in the men’s madison.
The team, less the men’s team sprint trio, head to Chile tomorrow for the fourth round of the UC”I Track World Cup in Santiago at the weekend.
Day 3 results:
Men 4000m Team Pursuit, round 1: Canada 3:58.359, 1; New Zealand (Harry Waine, Tom Sexton, Jared Gray, Nick Kergozou) 4:00.679, 2; USA 4:05.734, 3; Switzerland 4:05.700, 4. Gold Medal: New Zealand (Campbell Stewart, Sexton, Gary, Kergozou) 3:59.00, 1; Canada 3:59.982, 2. Bronze Medal: Switzerland 3, USA 4.
Men Sprint qualifying: Jeffrey Hoogland (NED) 9.702, 1; Harrie Lavreysen (NED) 9.743, 2; Ethan Mitchell (NZL) 9.784, 3. Also: Sam Webster (NZL) 10.026, 14.
Round 1: Webster bt Patryk Rajkowski (POL); Mitchell bye. Round 2: Mitchell bt Webster; Quarterfinal: Mitchell bt Philip Hindes (GBR) 2-0; Semifinal: Mitchell bt Hugo Barrette (CAN) 2-1. Gold medal: Hoogland bt Mitchell 2-0. Bronze medal: Jack Carlin (GBR) bt Barrette 2-0.
Women Madison: Great Britain 29 points, 1; France 24, 2; New Zealand (Racquel Sheath, Michaela Drummond) 15, 3.
Men Madison: Belgium 32 points, 1; New Zealand (Tom Sexton, Campbell Stewart) 26, 2; Great Britain 25, 3.
Men Omnium overall: Niklas Larsen (DEN) 132 points, 1; Oliver Wood (GBR) 120, 2; Gael Suter (SUI) 112, 3. Also: Campbell Stewart (NZL) 109, 4.
Women keirin final: Kristina Vogel (GER) 1, Katy Marchant (GBR) 2, Shanne Braspennincx (NED) 3. Also: Natasha Hansen (NZL 4. Round 1, heat 1: Hansen 1. Round 2, semifinal 1: Hansen 3.
CAPTION: Natasha Hansen in the keirin at the UCI World Cup in Milton, Canada.
Photo courtesy Rob Jones