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Dylan Kennett from the SUBWAY® Pro Cycling team represents New Zealand’s best chance of being crowned an under 19 World Champion since Sarah Ulmer achieved the feat twice in the 1990s.
On Wednesday, a 16-strong New Zealand team takes on 154 riders from 24 countries at the UCI Junior Track World Championships in Invercargill. The team also includes Subway® Pro Cycling’s Tayla Harrison from Canterbury.
The New Zealand squad includes six of the team returning from last year’s successful group that won a record 10 medals in Moscow. Four of those medal winning riders will compete in Invercargill including double medallist Kennett, Wanganui’s Cassie Cameron, Auckland’s Paige Patterson and Alexandra’s Sophie Williamson.
All four won bronze medals with Kennett winning his in the omnium and team pursuit, Patterson in the team sprint, Williamson in the points race and Cameron in the scratch race.
Kennett said he had ‘high expectations’ of winning a world title eyeing the kilo and madison events as his best chances.
“I’m confident of reaching the top step of the podium and building on last year’s results,” he said.
“I’m excited, everyone is going well and it’s great to be racing at the World Champs in New Zealand.”
SUBWAY® Pro Cycling’s General Manager Hayden Godfrey, himself a former elite World Champion on the track in the omnium, said he would be disappointed if Kennett did not win a world title.
“He really does represent New Zealand’s best shot at a world title since the days of Sarah Ulmer. He’s been there before, he’s in good form and he knows what to expect. It’s going to be a very exciting week.”
Godfrey will be at the event in an official capacity as a technical advisor for BikeNZ and will be helping guide Harrison through the challenging omnium event.
“I think Tayla will also go well and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences to help him achieve a podium result.”
The Championships provide a very important gauge for rider’s future dreams, something not lost on Kennett, who said it was “definitely another important step towards the goal of being a full time professional cyclist.”
Having the junior World Championships in New Zealand gives BikeNZ the opportunity to enter a full line-up of riders, something the national cycling body finds difficult to do every year in Europe due to the cost.
Most of the teams arrived in Invercargill last week and are looking forward to racing on a track rated one of the fastest sea-level velodromes in the world. Teams include a 17-strong squad from last year’s hosts Russia and an Australian team with four defending world champions.
The event marks the second time the world junior championships have been staged in New Zealand, following Wanganui in 1983.
The countries on show include Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Belgium, Argentina, Great Britain, Belarus, New Zealand, France, Russia, Armenia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, USA, Ukraine, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Korea, Netherlands, Mexico, Chile and Czechoslovakia.
The competition starts on Wednesday and finishes on Sunday with 19 world championship rainbow jerseys to be awarded.