World cup a boon for Waipa

A team of 90 Cambridge Primary School students rode to the Avantidrome on Friday to check out the action as part of a World Cup leverage and legacy program.

The close proximity of the Velodrome to Cambridge has been a factor in ensuring the economic success of hosting a round of the the Track Cycling World Cup.

The event returned for a second time this year to Cambridge last weekend.

“Accommodation was in high demand for the weekend and the one to two weeks leading up to the event, since many athletes had arrived in advance,” said Miff Macdiarmid, CEO of Destination Cambridge and the Cambridge i-Site.

“Accommodation spilled over to beyond Cambridge due to the high numbers of teams and support personnel.

She said it was a bonus for the region’s eateries and visitors enjoyed the Cambridge café scene in particular.”

“It was absolutely fantastic to showcase Cambridge, the athletes and support personnel are always blown away by not just the Avantidrome, but by the proximity of Cambridge and all it has to offer. Many other international velodromes are based in the middle of nowhere. Here the athletes are able to bike to the Avantidrome from their accommodation, bike to town safely on the Te Awa River ride, enjoy award-winning cafes, take in some beautiful road rides, and so much more.”

Residents also rode out to the event on the Te Awa River Ride, leaving from the Gaslight Theatre on Alpha St, including a contingent of 90 Cambridge Primary School students.

“It was brilliant to see them all making the trip on two wheels and the children were apparently buzzing after the day of riding and watch the cyclists in the velodrome as part of the World Cup leverage and legacy program,” said UCI Track Cycling World Cup Marketing Manager Nicky Bowden.

The cycling action then shifted from Waipa to Queensland over the weekend as round five of the Track Cycling World Cup started in Brisbane on December 13.

Round four of the six-part competition took place at the Avantidrome over December 6 – 8, with over 500 riders and staff from 44 countries involved.

The event was an economic boost to the Waipā and Hamilton districts, and spectators filled the Avantidrome seats at 75 per cent capacity across all six race sessions.

Cambridge also hosted a round of 2018 – 2019 UCI Track Cycling World Cup in January, and looks poised to host another one in the 2020-2021 round.

The Cambridge CBD saw an increase in foot traffic over the World Cup weekend and cafes were kept busy in the mornings over Saturday and Sunday.

Kiwi cyclists earn top medal tally

Malaysia’s Azizul Awang pulls a wheelie on the way to the keirin victory. Photo – Guy Swarbrick.

The largely Waipa-based team of cyclists competing for New Zealand at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup earned themselves the highest number of victories by any team at the round-five event.

They won eight medals, including five gold, topped off with an emphatic victory for Campbell Stewart and Aaron Gate in the 50km Madison on the final day.

Stewart, 21,  also dominated the omnium to take gold ahead of his Australian and German counterparts during the Saturday evening session.

The night also saw Holly Edmondston win the women’s scratch race and the Kiwi pair of Michaela Drummond and Jesse Hodges claiming bronze in the 30km women’s madison.

Campbell Stewart celebrates his success in the omnium. Photo – Guy Swarbrick.

Their chances didn’t look good after Drummond was caught in a crash that brought down four riders, but she bravely returned to the race and, along wit hHodges, managed to finish third in the last two sprints, including a superb effort in the final double points sprint, to claim the bronze medal.

Edmondston was joined by Rushlee Buchanan, Bryony Botha and Kirstie James in winning the team pursuit final, producing their best time yet in the 4000m race in 4:10.705 – only half a second outside the world record set by Great Britain at the Rio Olympics.

“I looked at the board when we crossed the finish line and it was bitter-sweet – like holy cow did we just do that time, but oh man it was so close to the world record,” said Buchanan. “It is awesome to do that with the girls.”

Natasha Hansen and Olivia Podmore on the podium after setting a new national record in the women’s sprint final. Photo – Guy Swarbrick.

The pursuiters’ achievements were matched by the pairing of Olivia Podmore and Natasha Hansen who broke new ground in the women’s team sprint, becoming the first Kiwi duo to go under 33 seconds and setting a new national record of 32.794 seconds in the first round. They clocked 32.877 seconds in the gold medal ride to pip Poland by just two one hundredths of a second.

The combination of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster were the first of the Kiwis to win a medal at the competition, claiming bronze in the men’s team sprint final on Friday.

Olivia Podmore on her way to qualifying in the repechage of the individual sprint. Photo – Guy Swarbrick.

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