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The men’s team pursuit will ride off for the bronze medal after their qualifying ride at the UCI Track Cycling World Cup in London.
However the women’s team pursuit could only manage the sixth fastest in 3:25:468 in their first outing on the Olympic Velodrome, in a time well below expectation.
World champions Australia take on Beijing gold medallists Great Britain for the gold medal ride in the men’s 4000m team pursuit, but unusually will have to wait until the final night of the programme on Monday (NZ time).
The New Zealand line-up, without star Jesse Sergent who is on duties for his professional road team, produced a solid performance in 4:04.218.
They take on Belgium in the bronze ride.
“The guys found the track very heavy tonight, so if you are slightly off the pace it is very difficult to pick things up,” said BikeNZ men’s coach Tim Carswell.
“For us it was a solid performance but not brilliant. We came here to try out some different combinations and to get into the medal ride and get another opportunity to race on the track, so we have achieved that.”
Canada were the surprise pacesetters in the women’s 3000m qualifying with a significant improvement on their previous best to clock 3:20.785 ahead of hosts Great Britain, while Australia and Netherlands ride off for the bronze medal.
BikeNZ women’s coach Dayle Cheatley said the trio of Alison Shanks, Jaime Nielsen and Lauren Ellis were gutted about the effort.
“The team never got on the right pace from the start and could not bring it back in the second half,” Cheatley said.
“They have been doing 3:25 pace regularly in training so this is really disappointing today. Everything indicated they were more than capable to ride the 3:20 pace that we had set.
“They were not overawed and seemed well prepared. The disappointing thing is that they won’t get a second ride now and a further chance on the track.”
The trio went through 1km point in 1:11.321, nearly two seconds behind pace-setters Great Britain, and 2:17.631 at the 2km mark in 2:17.631 with Great Britain and Canada fastest at 2:14.
The first full day of action begins tomorrow including women’s competition in the team pursuit, team sprint and scratch race while the men will contest the points, team sprint, kilo and the first day of the Omnium.
Women’s 3000m team pursuit qualifying: Canada 3:20.785, 1; Great Britain 3:21.370, 2; Australia 3:21.426, 3; Netherlands 3:22.776, 4; USA 3:23.208, 5; New Zealand (Lauren Ellis, Jaime Nielsen, Alison Shanks) 3:25.468, 6.
Men’s 4000m team pursuit qualifying: Australia 3:57.885, 1; Great Britain 3:58.446, 2; New Zealand (Marc Ryan, Aaron Gate, Westley Gough, Sam Bewley) 4:04.218, 3; Belgium 4:06.596, 4.