TISSOT UCI TRACK CYCLING WORLD CUP, CAMBRIDGE – DAY 3 NZ WRAP
Cycling New Zealand is delighted that it produced world-class performances on the track and a world-class event with the Tissot UCI Track World Cup that finished in Cambridge today.
New Zealand was awarded the Best Overall Nation Award at the penultimate World Cup of the 2018-2019 season at the Avantidrome which offered important qualifying points for next month’s World Championships and ultimately to the Tokyo Olympics.
They won five of the 12 events along with two bronze medals and established national and world-class times in their performances.
“The event was a significant success as we again showed we can produce world-class events here in Cambridge which is a tribute to our events team,” said Jacques Landry, Acting CEO.
“On the track the whole team responded to the challenge, not only with success but with outstanding performances like the men’s team pursuit who recorded the second fastest time in history.
“We have a largely young team and a new coaching group and they will only grow from this experience.
“We also gave our young Performance Hub riders from the Vantage and Subway teams some invaluable experience and a chance to test themselves in the stress of a World Cup.
“We are thankful for the commercial backing from our sponsors especially the Grassroots Trust and for the support from fans who packed the Avantidrome.”
Australian Nathan Hart enjoyed a breakthrough victory in the men’s sprint, with two straight wins in the final over Polish champion Mateusz Rudyk.
The 25-year-old won the semifinal in two-straight rides over Frenchman Sebastien Vigier, both with emphatic performances, and he was equally untroubled in the final for his first World Cup sprint victory.
"I knew I was coming in here with good form. I have never even been on the podium before in a sprint so to come away with a gold I mean I am absolutely ecstatic,” said Hart. "I wouldn't say it was a surprise to be honest I was feeling good all day and was really happy with how I raced.
"This is the third World Cup sprint I have done. I raced in late 2013 at Aguascalientes and didn't even qualify and then it was a few years focusing on team sprint first wheel and it has just been the last couple of World Cups that I have had the opportunity to race the sprint.
Both New Zealand riders, Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell, clocked the same time of 9.692s to be fourth and fifth fastest respectively, to bypass the first round and move to the 1/8th round.
Mitchell lost his first-round quarterfinal against Webster, but fought back to win the next two races and progress to the semifinal. However he was edged by the slimmest of margins on the line by Rudyk in two exciting semifinal rides. He was pipped in the bronze ride off over three rides against Vigier.
Inaugural Madison World Champions Jolien D'hoore and Lotte Kopecky of Belgium were the dominant force in the women's Madison winning five of the eight sprints on route to the gold medal.
"The Italians are really strong, we knew them from races before, so we had some attention on them, but we just focused on the sprints and ourselves, and making a strong race, and that’s what helped us in the end," said D'hoore.
After taking points in the opening two sprints a late charge by New Zealand's Racquel Sheath and Rushlee Buchanan saw them take the final spot on the podium on nine points, two clear of Russia and Belarus.
“It gives us real confidence with our form over the three days including the Trade Team – to have them get fourth in the team pursuit shows the depth in our squad. Honestly the next four or five weeks leading to the worlds is going to be so exciting with everyone fighting for their spots. It’s an awesome place to be and I am confident we are going to make big gains,” Buchanan said of the New Zealand performances.
Martina Fidanza (Italy) unleashed her powerful turn of speed on the final lap to charge clear to scratch race gold ahead of Daria Pikulik (Poland) with Subway New Zealand Trade Team's Jessie Hodges completing the podium.
Claudio Imhof from Switzerland took the narrowest of victories in the men’s omnium, winning the title by just one point from Raman Tsishkou of Belarus. Imhof’s consistency was key, finishing fourth in the scratch race, third in the tempo and third in the elimination, before controlling the points race to seal the victory.
“It was really a great day today. I started well in the scratch, which is not really my favourite discipline, but I managed to be in the top five and then I just tried to keep my discipline, keep my head up and push as hard as I can,” said Imhof.
Individual scratch race winner Christos Volikakis followed up on that form by winning the scratch race before eventually finishing fourth overall. New Zealand’s Regan Gough was eighth after the four event competition.
Hong Kong’s Lee Wai-sze has flexed her muscles again, adding the women’s keirin title to her sprint gold medal.
Lee did it the hard way in the final. Sitting in fourth place at the bell lap and forced wide over the final 250 metres, she won it in a photo finish from Great Britain’s Katy Marchant with the winning margin just four 1000ths of a second. Liubov Basova from Ukraine took the bronze medal.
World champion Nicky Degrendele of Belgium missed out on the final, as did New Zealand’s Natasha Hansen, eventually finishing 10th and 7th respectively.
CAPTION: The New Zealand cycling team celebrate their award; while Rushlee Buchanan and Racquel Sheath in action on the way to a bronze medal in the Madison at the Tissot UCI Track Cycling World Cup in Cambridge. (Credit: Guy Swarbrick)