Southland's Strong to ride for gold at junior track worlds
Southland's Corbin Strong and the junior men’s team pursuit will ride for the gold medal after an outstanding start to the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Switzerland today.
The quartet of George Jackson, Strong, Bailey O’Donnell, Finn Fisher-Black were fastest in qualifying and in their first-round clash to earn a place against France in the ride for the gold medal on the second night of finals at the UCI Velodrome in Aigle.
Meanwhile the women’s team pursuit were third fastest in qualifying in their 4000m test and take on perennial rivals Australia in the first-round on day two.
The women’s team sprint pairing of Southlander Sophie Bloxham and Shaane Fulton were pipped for the bronze medal by Poland in their medal clash after qualifying second fastest.
The men’s team pursuit produced two rides of real discipline and maturity to push them into the gold medal ride against France, who they beat for the bronze medal at the junior world championships last year.
The Kiwis stuck to their race plan in both qualifying and their first-round ride, using their strength in the back end of the ride to qualify fastest in 4:04.321 ahead of Great Britain, France and Australia.
They had similar tactics against Australia in first round, behind by 1.2 seconds at the 1000m, 0.6s at the halfway mark and 0.2s at the 3000m. New Zealand were the only team to ride sub 60 seconds for the final kilometre, to clock 4:03.109. It was the fastest of all teams and beat off the Australians by more than two seconds.
The French had the opposite tactics, storming to big early leads although they were perhaps fortunate in their first round when opponents Great Britain were stalled with a late crash in their team.
“The boys rode splendidly with two rides of real discipline to the race plan,” said head coach Jon Andrews. “We had Corbin Strong as the only rider back from last year where he learned a lot and that helped.
“This year we have six guys who could ride which gives us such depth and is a big difference for us. They were patient and precise today and it sets up a great opportunity for them tomorrow night.”
It was a different story for the female team pursuit, who lost one of their key riders Jenna Merrick to a training accident just hours before the team left.
However Ally Wollaston, Samantha Donnelly, Annemarie Lipp and McKenzie Milne produced an excellent performance to be third fastest in 4:35.823, only 0.3seconds behind second placed Australia who they meet in the first round.
“It was a really good ride in qualifying. Clearly the Italians, who dominated last year, are the class of the field and we are set for a big challenge against Australia tomorrow. That is likely to decide if we get to through for a chance of the gold medal or the bronze.
“Like the guys, the girls rode to the plan which was really impressive.”
Earlier the pairing of Sophie Bloxham from Southland and Shaane Fulton from Nelson finished fourth in the team sprint.
They qualified second fastest in 28.658s behind Germany who were a cut above all others today. The Kiwi pair managed to go slightly faster in 28.588 which was fourth fastest and put them into the bronze medal ride against Poland.
They managed 28.723s while the Polish pair produced an excellent effort in 28.197 to secure the bronze medal with Germany winning gold over China.
“Sophie and Shaane rode really well today. It is a tough competition to produce three rides in a couple of hours.
“The other teams all managed to go fractionally faster with every ride which is the progression you need but we just couldn’t quite nail that final ride. They should be proud of their efforts and now can focus on the individual events to come with some confidence.”
Day two will see the men’s team pursuit finals, qualifying for women’s sprint and men’s keirin with Levin’s Thomas Garbett and the men’s scratch race.
The competition continues until Sunday.
Day 1 results:
Men 4000m team pursuit, qualifying: New Zealand (George Jackson, Corbin Strong, Bailey O’Donnell, Finn Fisher-Black) 4:04.321, 1; Great Britain 4:05, 2; France 4:05.599, 3; Australia 4:07.541, 4. First round: New Zealand 4:03.108, 1 bt Australia 4:05.154; France 4:05.356 bt Great Britain dnf.
Women Team Sprint, qualifying: Germany 28.539, 1; New Zealand (Sophie Bloxham, Shaane Fulton) 28.658, 2; Poland 28.665, 3; China 28.695, 4. First round: Germany 27.872 bt Kazakhstan 30.160; China 28.353 bt Russia 28.926; Poland 28.489 bt Lithuania 28.666; New Zealand (Sophie Bloxham, Shaane Fulton) 28.588 bt Japan 29.650. Gold medal ride: Germany 28.026 1, China 28.342, 2. Bronze medal ride: Poland 28.197 3, New Zealand 28.723, 4.
Women 4000m team pursuit, qualifying: Italy 3:29.013, 1; Australia 4:35.456, 2; New Zealand (Ally Wollaston, Samantha Donnelly, Annemarie Lipp, McKenzie Milne) 4:35.823, 3; Great Britain 4:38.164, 4