Five podium finishes for track cyclists at World Cup

Eddie Dawkins celebrates the win. Photo – Rob Jones.

New Zealand’s largely Cambridge-based Elite track cycling team gave strong performances throughout the three-day UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Canada, coming away with five medals and plenty of close finishes.

The final day on Monday was highlighted by a strong finish from the teenage team pursuiters Nick Kergozou, Jared Gray, Tom Sexton and Campbell Stewart (filling in for Harry Waine). With an average age under 20 years, the took out the gold medal in the men’s team pursuit final over Canada, in a time of 3:59.00 – the fastest in competition for the young combination, who won by just 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.

Other medals on Monday went to Ethan Mitchell with a silver in the individual sprint, and bronze for Racquel Sheath and Michaela Drummond in the women’s madison. Natasha Hansen also took fourth in the keirin and Campbell Stewart fourth in the omnium.

Ethan Mitchell (right) and Sam Webster drawn against each other in the sprint. Photo – Rob Jones.

Mitchell edged out teammate Sam Webster in the second qualifying round of the individual sprint to make the semi-final where he eliminated Canada’s Hugo Barrette. He pushed hard in the final but could not match the power of top qualifier Jeffrey Hoogland (NED).

The day before, on day two of the competition, Mitchell joined Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins as the legendary NZ sprint trio, winning the second qualifying round before clearing Great Britain in the final by just over half a second to secure the win in 43.336 seconds.

Another medal on day two came from the formidable combination of Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha, Kirstie James and Michaela Drummond, earning the silver medal in the women’s team pursuit. The finished fastest in the first qualifying round by just 0.3 seconds, making their way to the final where they were on schedule at the 2000m mark but dropped in the third kilometre, with Canada, boosted with two fresh riders, turning up the heat to create a sizeable advantage at the 3000m mark, passing the Kiwis just before the finish.

The New Zealand team, less the men’s team sprint trio, headed to Chile on Tuesday for the fourth round of the UCI Track World Cup in Santiago this weekend.

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