11 Sep 2015

Roulston makes track return in Rio bid

4:17 pm on 11 September 2015

Competition for places in the New Zealand men's track squad has just got harder, with double Beijing medallist Hayden Roulston trying to make the Olympics.

Roulston returns to international track competition next month for the first time in seven years, in a bid to earn selection to the 2016 Rio Games.

Indoor pursuit silver medallist Hayden Roulston pictured in the Olympic Village the day after his win at the Beijing Olympic Games. 17 August 2008. Photo: Lawrence Smith/PHOTOSPORT

Indoor pursuit silver medallist Hayden Roulston in Beijing, 2008 Photo: Photosport

The 34-year-old has been named in the New Zealand team to contest next month's Oceania Continental Championships in Invercargill.

The championships will provide direct entry for winners to next year's World Championship, which is a vital stepping stone towards the Rio competition.

Cycling New Zealand announced its national team on Friday, and it's a mix of current elite squad and development riders for the four-day competition next October.

The team includes the current World Championship team sprint silver medallists Sam Webster, Eddie Dawkins and Ethan Mitchell, and 2013 omnium world champion Aaron Gate.

Roulston, currently a World Tour professional with Trek Factory Racing, has indicated to Cycling New Zealand head coach Dayle Cheatley that he wants to dedicate himself to track competition with the aim of selection for the Rio Olympics.

The New Zealand men's team pursuit foursome consisting of (L-R) Sam Bewley, Hayden Roulston, Marc Ryan and Jesse sergent win bronze in the final of the 4000m team pursuit at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. 18 August 2008. Photo: Lawrence Smith/PHOTOSPORT

Hayden Roulston with the NZ men's team pursuit who won bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics - (L-R) Sam Bewley, Roulston, Marc Ryan, Jesse Sergent) Photo: Photosport

"Hayden is a very experienced and decorated athlete on the track and road," said Cheatley. "He has delivered for New Zealand at multiple events and we welcome him back into the team for Oceania Championships.

"We all look forward to working with him in his goal of Rio in 2016. Of course it will be a massive challenge with five current world champions and some other road riders also indicating a desire to chase a spot for Rio."

Gate returns following his European campaign, recovered from a broken shoulder, to face an important omnium competition at Invercargill, where the winner receives an automatic spot for the world championships.

Roulston will be the experienced hand in a young combination in the team pursuit, with Manawatu's 2014 junior Madison world champion Luke Mudgway, fellow teenager Nick Kergozou of Southland, and 24-year-old former junior team sprint world champion Cam Karwowski, also of Southland.

The women's sprint team for the Oceania Championship features the return of Southland's Natasha Hansen and Otago's Katie Schofield.

With Commonwealth Games riders Rushlee Buchanan, Georgia Williams and Jaime Nielsen on professional road contracts at present, Olympic rider Lauren Ellis spearheads the women's endurance squad.

World championship silver medallist Matt Archibald of Southland, and Manawatu's Olympic bronze medallist Simon van Velthooven will compete for their cycling centre teams at the Oceania Championships.

New Zealand:

Male, sprint: Eddie Dawkins (Southland), Ethan Mitchell (Auckland), Sam Webster Auckland).

Endurance: Aaron Gate (Auckland), Cam Karwowski (Southland), Nick Kergozou (Southland), Hayden Roulston (Canterbury), Luke Mudgway (Manawatu)

Female, sprint: Natasha Hansen (Southland), Katie Schofield (Otago)

Endurance: Lauren Ellis, Kirstie James (Southland), Alysha Keith (Otago), Liz Steel (Canterbury), Pip Sutton (Waikato)