9 Oct 2015

New Zealand cyclists win three of four sprint titles

6:52 am on 9 October 2015

The New Zealand team has won three of the four sprint titles on the opening night of the Oceania track cycling championships in Invercargill.

The New Zealand men's sprint team of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster.

The New Zealand men's sprint team of Eddie Dawkins, Ethan Mitchell and Sam Webster. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The world championship silver medallist trio of Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Eddie Dawkins turned around a disappointing qualifying ride to comfortably win the men's team sprint gold ahead of Australia.

"The Oceanias are always a really important event for us because of the automatic qualification we can get for individual events for the world championships," Webster said.

"Everybody has to come here with really good condition to try and secure those spots and that filters through to the team events. For us it's one of the final events to secure points for Rio. It's our third win on the trot and we've won one at home, which is also good for the confidence with a home World Cup coming up later in the year."

The New Zealand team did not have the perfect ride in the morning session, but still managed to top qualifying with a time of 44.170sec.

They improved to 43.810sec to take out the final.

"We had a sloppy ride in qualifying, but we are our toughest critics," Webster said.

"We had a big improvement just by being technically better in the final. It's always good to try some things out in qualifying, but they didn't work out. We went back to what we knew best and got a much faster time and a better result."

Hayden Roulston returned to the New Zealand team for the first time since the 2008 Olympics, replacing Cam Karwowski in the lineup for the men's team pursuit final against Australia.

The New Zealand team improved by more than four seconds to head off their trans-Tasman rivals in the final to win gold, with the New Zealand women's pursuit team also besting Australia in the final.

The results mean New Zealand claimed three of the four team sprint titles on offer on the opening night of the championships, with the women's sprint team of Natasha Hansen and Katie Schofield having to settle for second in the final against Australia's Anna Meares and Kaarle McCulloch, who replaced Stephanie Morton after the qualifying round.

New Zealand's Connor Brown claimed the under 19 men's individual pursuit from compatriots Joshua Scott and Hugo Jones, while the southern combination of Emma Cumming and Ellesse Andrews won the under 19 women's team sprint.

The pair also finished one-two in the under 19 women's scratch race, with Andrews claiming the title.

Australian Lauren Perry won the elite women's scratch race over 10km, with Luke Mudgway taking out the men's 15km scratch after an audacious attack.

Bradley Knipe, Hamish Beadle and Jackson Ogle took out the under 19 men's team sprint.

Southland's Tom Sexton has won two of the first three events to lead the under 19 men's omnium at the halfway stage.

The Oceania championships continue until Sunday.