Sprinters earn starts in Track World Cup

Olivia Podmore races to a winning finish in the kerin trial.

Five young track cyclists training out of Cambridge now have their chance to compete at the highest level in the upcoming UCI Track World Cup at the Avantidrome.

Cycling New Zealand opened up the opportunity for two “trade teams” to be a part of the World Cup competition, conducting time trial racing last month at the Avantidrome for riders to earn a spot.

“We have a strong development programme with our Subway Performance Hubs as well as some young riders who have moved here to Cambridge and we wanted to signal to them and the sport that we are serious about giving them opportunities,” said Cycling New Zealand high performance director, Martin Barras.

“We decided to do this with a series of time trials over different distances and formats to simulate performances required in a team sprint. And the fastest in each of these was selected.”

Zac Williams was a stand-out rider during trials.

Barras said the competition on Thursday was “tight and impressive” with a number of personal bests set, signalling out Zac Williams from Christchurch, now Cambridge based, for his outstanding performances.

Williams, Auckland’s Sam Dakin and Southland’s Bradly Knipe will form the men’s trade team while Commonwealth Games rider Olivia Podmore will be joined by former Australian Tahlay Christie, who is a member of the Grassroots Trust Waikato Bay of Plenty Performance Hub in the women’s team.

The locally-based riders have since been training at the Avantidrome for the big event over January 18-20, where they’ll face over 30 nations from around the world.

Here’s what the riders had to say…

“It was a fantastic day to let everyone have a crack. It is my first World Cup which is pretty awesome and to do it in front of friends and family is going to be pretty fantastic but the hard work is only just going to start,” said Dakin.

“I was happy with my start. It was tight competition and everyone was really close. I am excited to be racing in front of my home crowd in a World Cup” said Knipe.

“We have not done many of these and it was a level playing field,” said Williams. “It was clear cut and did not bring opinion in – we are a sport of numbers so it was the ideal way to run it.”

Christie said it was exciting that she would be making her World Cup debut in her new home across the Tasman.

“I had been recovering from an injury and was not snappy in the warmup. But when I heard the countdown it got me riled up,” said Christie. “I always thought the first time I would ride a World Cup would be as an Australian and now I am going to do it as a Kiwi; home crowd is going to have a whole new meaning.”

For Podmore it is a chance to further press her claims in what will be her third World Cup competition, but her first time at home. “I was happy to execute a good time with gearing I would have as a second wheel rider,” said Podmore. “I went faster than I did at the Commonwealth Games which is good.

“It was a super-exciting vibe out there today and everyone going out and giving it the jandal.”

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