Cyclists in Games mode 

Tom Sexton is back from racing in Europe. Photos: Guy Swarbrick.

Cycling New Zealand’s elite track riders are starting a hectic and vital summer programme with Paris Olympic qualification at stake.

With the shortened Olympiad post-Tokyo, qualifying steps up a gear in 2023, with the key track events pushed into the early part of the year which provides the pathway to the revamped world championships in September and on to next year’s Paris Olympics.

The competition hots up tomorrow with the annual Aon Cambridge Three Day track event starting on Friday at the Grassroots Trust Velodrome.

It will features the national championships for the four-discipline omnium and the two-person madison.

Competition features a number of Commonwealth Games stars including gold medallists Campbell Stewart, Corbin Strong and Tom Sexton, back from their professional road season in Europe, along with fellow Games riders Nick Kergozou, Callum Saunders.

Double gold medallist Bryony Botha will be racing in Cambridge.

Double gold medallist Bryony Botha will be in action in the omnium along with fellow Games double medallist Michaela Drummond and Olivia King.

There is also star quality with professional road rider Ally Wollaston, along with Ella Wyllie, Pru Fowler, Emily Shearman and the return of Jessie Hodges and Emma Cumming after long-term injuries.

“This is the start of an extremely important nine months for the Cycling New Zealand high performance team,” said Cycling New Zealand’s Amy Taylor.

“The target is the Nations Cup in the New Year with the first in Jakarta in February and Cairo in March followed by the Oceania Championships. Performances there are fundamental to qualifying in Olympic events for the world championships later in the year in Glasgow.

“This weekend is the first turn of the wheels in that direction. We welcome back some of our experienced riders off their professional road campaigns in Europe and also some of our riders from the junior world championships stepping up to elite level.”

The leading Para-cyclists are also in action including Tokyo Paralympians Nicole Murray and Anna Taylor, and Devon Briggs who return to the track after their outstanding medal-winning success at the recent Para Cycling Track World Championships in France.

Murray will sport her rainbow jersey after claiming two world titles in the scratch and omnium and a bronze in individual pursuit in C5; Taylor two bronze medals in 500m time trial and omnium in C4, while Briggs won two silvers in the 1000m time trail and omnium in C4.

Morning sessions will start at 10am and evening racing from 4pm tomorrow and Saturday and from 10am on Sunday. Morning sessions are $5 for adults with children free and evening $10 for adults and $5 for children.

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