27 Apr 2012

Largest-ever team of 15 cyclists named for Olympics

12:09 pm on 27 April 2012

A 15-strong New Zealand track cycling team has been named for this year's London Olympics.

New Zealand's biggest-ever team is built around the riders who achieved podium performances at the recent world championships in Melbourne.

It includes the men's pursuit team who won bronze in Melbourne with the addition of Jesse Sergent, a men's sprint team, a women's pursuit team, a women's sprinter and a men's and women's omnium rider.

The men's pursuit team is Jesse Sergent, Marc Ryan, Aaron Gate, Sam Bewley and Westley Gough.

The men's sprint team is Simon van Velthooven, Ethan Mitchell and Eddie Dawkins.

The women's team pursuiters are Alison Shanks, Jamie Nielsen and Lauren Ellis with cover from Rushlee Buchanan.

Natashia Hansen is the women's sprinter, while Joanne Kiesanowski and Shane Archbold are the omnium riders.

Sam Webster is a reserve for the men's team.

BikeNZ's High Performance Director Mark Elliott says the team is capable of medal-winning performances across many events.

Elliott says the selection has been a challenging process with the quality of the riders in the programme and also the quota process in place by the sport's ruling body.

Nations were recently advised that teams were limited to eight men and six women, although one rider may be transferred from another cycling discipline.

New Zealand is also entitled to one male and female reserve rider to cover in case of injury or illness.

New Zealand Olympic Track cyclists have won a total of four Olympic medals including Sarah Ulmer's gold medal at Athens 2004 in the individual pursuit, Hayden Roulston's silver in men's pursuit in Beijing 2008 and bronze medals from Gary Anderson (1992 Barcelona men's individual pursuit) and the men's team pursuit at Beijing (Gough, Bewley, Roulston, Ryan, Sergent).

New Zealand's Olympic BMX and mountain bike teams will be named at the end of May and the road team in June.

The naming of the cycling team brings the total number of athletes selected to the New Zealand Olympic Team to 80.