3 Mar 2018

World champs bronze for Buchanan

10:56 am on 3 March 2018

Rushlee Buchanan has produced an outstanding performance to grab New Zealand's first medal at the Track Cycling World Championships in the Dutch city of Apeldoorn.

New Zealand cyclist Rushlee Buchanan.

New Zealand cyclist Rushlee Buchanan. Photo: Photosport

Buchanan lapped the field twice in the points race on Saturday (NZ time), the final discipline in the four-event omnium, to jump from 11th place to third in the overall standings.

In her first omnium at a world championship, Buchanan showed her skill on the track.

The 30-year-old was 15th in the scratch race, 13th in the tempo race and ninth in the exciting elimination race.

But she saved her best for last in the points race, a mix of chess on top of both endurance and sprinting ability.

After lapping the field early, she was in a key three-person break that lapped the field for a second time, to pick up 40 bonus points to go with two sprint wins up for grabs every 10 laps.

"I started the day pretty slow but I knew my strengths were in the later events," Buchanan said.

"I just raced to win the points race but with 20 laps to go I realised I was third overall. Then it was game on. I just wanted to win the points race. New Zealand are pretty good in that event.

"It was always my plan to go long and be aggressive. I can't beat the likes of Kirsten Wild in a match sprint so I knew I had to play my cards early and take as many opportunities as I could.

"I knew I had to leave it all out there. I tried to position myself for the last sprint, but ran out of gas - but it ended up in my favour."

Dutch rider Kirtsen Wild won gold on 121 points, with Amalie Dideriksen of Denmark claiming silver on 112.

Buchanan was a further six points back in third, just one clear of fourth-placed finisher Elisa Balsamo of Italy.

It is the third bronze medal for Buchanan at the world champs, who has twice finished on the podium at the event as part of the team pursuit.

Buchanan said she would like to put her hand up for the omnium spot through to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

"I've always wanted to do an individual event. I love bunch racing which is where I started. I am grateful for the opportunity and stoked that I made the most of it and now I have put my hand up as an option for this event.

"I am certainly going to take huge confidence from this through to the Commonwealth Games."

Meanwhile, New Zealand team-mate Eddie Dawkins muscled his way into the quarterfinals in the men's individual sprint, where he takes on Great Britain's Jack Carlin.

Ethan Mitchell, who won a bronze medal last year, headed the Kiwi qualifiers for the sprint, clocking 9.805s in a blistering qualifying session, to be 11th fastest.

All three New Zealand sprinters qualified with Dawkins 14th in 9.843s and Sam Webster 23rd in 10.002s.

Dawkins and Mitchell both won their first round match races against Martin Cechman (CZE) and Damian Zielinski (POL) respectively, but Webster was edged out by Melvin Landerneau (FRA).

Dawkins then produced an outstanding ride to oust local star Harrie Lavreysen, the silver medallist last year and part of the Dutch team that won the team sprint on the opening day, to qualify him for the best-of-three race quarterfinal on Sunday.

Unfortunately, Mitchell was pipped in a closely fought sprint finish by Poland's Mateusz Rudyk in his second-round clash.

Regan Gough produced a strong ride for ninth in the men's 40km, 160-lap points race.

The Hawke's Bay rider was part of a break that lapped the field, and he pushed up to fourth in the running, before a late charge led by the brilliant Australian Cameron Meyer produced the winning break.

Six New Zealanders are in action on the penultimate day of competition, led by Dawkins in the quarterfinals of the men's sprint.

Also racing is former junior world champion Campbell Stewart in his first elite omnium, Bryony Botha and Kirstie James in the individual pursuit, while Micheala Drummond and Racquel Sheath team up in the madison.