New Zealand will send a team of 11 riders to contest the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Colombia this month.
Strong form in the World Cup, which has seen New Zealand male sprinters and endurance riders qualify in all key events, has encouraged selectors to choose a full complement for the world championships.
Head coach Dayle Cheatley believes all 11 riders will be capable of medals in selected events at the five-day championships in Cali, the sporting centre of Colombia, from 26 February to 2 March.
Five sprinters have been selected, comprising the London Olympic trio of medallist Simon van Velthooven, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins, plus Sam Webster and Southland’s Matt Archibald, who will make his world championship debut.
There are six riders in the endurance team comprising London Olympic medallists Marc Ryan and omnium world champion Aaron Gate, along with World Cup teammates Pieter Bulling (Invercargill), Dylan Kennett (Waimate) and Olympic omnium rider Shane Archbold (Timaru).
Outstanding form in the final World Cup in Mexico has earned Southland’s Tom Scully his call-up. The 23-year-old made an excellent return to the track at the Oceania Championships late last year and the recent World Cup in Mexico where he won the Madison with Patrick Bevin and was second in the points race.
“The riders put their hands up with some quality performances at the World Cup competitions and in training to warrant selection,” Cheatley said. “We’ve qualified maximum quotas in all of our targetted events and want to do justice to these opportunities.
“I’m confident that we will be a medal threat in all of our key events at Cali.”
In the sprints Southland’s Eddie Dawkins was the top ranked rider on the World Cup circuit and is currently ranked fifth in the world with Webster sixth and Archibald 16th. The team sprint is ranked second, van Velthooven is ranked top of the 1000m time trial with Dawkins sixth in the keirin.
The endurance group are ranked eighth in both the team pursuit and Madison, Gate is No 1 ranked in the omnium, Scully is eighth in points, while Kennett is fifth in the scratch.
“We will be looking to build from this. It’s been a little challenging in our preparation working around the construction at the Avantidrome, although going forward the benefits of our centralised programme will be immense.
“That will manifest itself more fully at the world championships next year.”
The final rider selection for specific events will take place just before the championships begin.
Meanwhile the High Performance riders not selected for the World Championships, including the women’s endurance and sprint riders, will be focussing on preparations for the elite national championships on 13-16 March, the first major event to be staged at the new Avantidrome, which will form the final trial for July’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The team leave for Cali on Monday 17 February.
The team is:
Endurance: Aaron Gate (Auckland), Dylan Kennett (Waimate), Marc Ryan (Timaru), Pieter Bulling (Invercargill), Shane Archbold (Timaru), Tom Scully (Invercargill).
Sprint: Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Eddie Dawkins (Invercargill), Sam Webster (Auckland), Matt Archibald (Invercargill), Simon van Velthooven (Feilding).