Southlander claims junior worlds title on track
It was a gold and silver day for New Zealand’s team pursuit combinations on the second day of the UCI Junior Track Cycling World Championships in Switzerland.
The men’s quartet of George Jackson, Southland's Corbin Strong, Bailey O’Donnell and Finn Fisher-Black produced another superb performance to plan to beat off the challenge from France to claim the 4000m team pursuit title at the UCI Velodrome in Aigle.
Meanwhile the women’s team pursuit combination of Ally Wollaston, Annamarie Lippo, Sami Donnelly and McKenzie Milne bettered rivals Australia in the first round and finished second behind defending champions Italy in the final.
It was the third gold medal New Zealand has won in the men;’ team pursuit at the junior world championships following on from 2016 and 2005 teams that produced the likes of Jesse Sergent, Sam Bewley and Campbell Stewart, and was the 11th medal in this event dating back to 1993.
It was the eighth time the junior women have won a medal in this event, and the fifth time in succession to magnify the programme since the establishment of the Avantidrome in Cambridge and the evolution of the Subway National Performance Hub pathway programme.
The men again stuck to their disciplined approach in the final with France, who tried to contain their all-or-nothing approach of earlier rounds. New Zealand only edged ahead at the 3000m mark before their resilience and endurance kicked in, flying home in another sub 60-second kilometre to win in a superb 4:01.685 with over four seconds back to the French.
“It is massive and I can’t really describe the feeling,” said Strong, who was the only rider to return from last year. “For me it was watching the New Zealand boys back in 2014 and wanting to be part of it. We set our goal and our performance was awesome. To do this with your best mates is beyond words right now.”
Strong said the key was the team discipline.
“We are a new team, and there are six of us and any of them could have ridden. We stuck to our plan and let the others make superfast starts and didn’t worry. We had real belief.”
Earlier the junior women’s combination produced an outstanding ride in 4:31.216 to dispatch Australia by more than four seconds in the semifinal. They were behind at the 1000m but ahead at the midway mark, and from there dominated.
The Italians, who have been the class of this competition for the last tree years, were too good in the final but not before the Kiwis has pushed them in the early stages.
“They produced two really good rides, particularly the effort against Australia,” said head coach Jon Andrews.
‘There are three first-year juniors in the team and so to be second best in the world is outstanding and very exciting for next year. Like the boys they were well-disciplined and controlled in their performance.
“A key here has been the improvement in race-craft which is a direct result of the racing experience in the Subway Track Series that was established this year.”
In other rides, Thomas Garbett finished ninth in the keirin competition. He won his first round but got checked by a rider who crashed at a key part of his semifinal, and was pipped for a spot in the final in a sprint finish.
“It is only a smaller track here at Aigle and it is very difficult to come from behind in the sprints.”
Both female sprinters Shaane Fulton and Sophie-Leigh Bloxham qualified in the top-24 in the individual sprint with Fulton accounting for Arune Saviciute (LTU) in her first round in a strong ride, However she was pipped by just 5/100ths of a second in the second round by Australian Alana Field.
Bloxham beat Anastassiya Shapovalova (KAZ) in her first round with a good ride but was also pipped in the second round in a strong performance against second seed Jiafang Hu (CHN).
Kiaan Watts won his qualifying race in the 10km scratch race but finished in the pack, a lap down on winner Joojoung Park (KOR) in the final.
Tomorrow sees Finn Fisher-Black and Jarred Tremayne in the individual pursuit, Tom Garbutt in the individual sprint and George Jackson in the points while Wollaston competes in the omnium, with competition continuing until Sunday.
Day 2 results:
Men 4000m team pursuit, gold medal ride: New Zealand (George Jackson, Corbin Strong, Bailey O’Donnell, Finn Fisher-Black) 4:01:685, 1; France 4:05:058, 2. Australia 3, Italy 4.
Women 4000m team pursuit, round 1: New Zealand (Ally Wollaston, Samantha Donnelly, Annemarie Lipp, McKenzie Milne) 4:31:216 1; Australia 4:35:641, 2; Italy 4:29:312, 1; Great Britain 4:35:621, 2.
Gold medal ride: Italy 4:28:398, 1; New Zealand 2. Bronze medal ride: Great Britain 3, Australia 4.
Women individual sprint qualifying: ShaanFulton 11.469, 10; Sophie Bloxham 11.722, 18.
Round 1: Fulton bt Arune Sariciute (LTU), Bloxham bt Anastassiya Shapovalova (KAZ). Round 2: Jiafang Hu (CHN) bt Bloxham, Alana Field (AUS) bt Fulton.
Men Keirin round 1, heat 9: Thomas Garbett 1, Livanos Konstantinos(GRE) 2. Semifinal (2 to advance): Anton Hohne (GER) 1, Esow Esow (IND) 2, Garbett 3. Final 7-12th: Cezary Laczkowski (POL) 1, Ivan Gladyshev (RUS) 2, Garbett 3.
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.